Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Stretching: Before or After playing?

There has been much debate recently about the effects of stretching and whether it is necessary. Studies done seemed to have insinuated that what we learnt in school about stretching BEFORE games have not prevented injuries.

I came across this article today and felt the overwhelming need to give my 2cts worth. 

Before the game/activity

I was educated by the old school method of stretching before exercising. It didn't take me long to realise that trying to stretch cold muscles seemed a futile attempt. Jogging a little before stretching seemed to make more sense. A short jog around the field became my preferred warm up sequence, followed by 10-15mins of static stretching, starting from the neck muscles down all the way to the ankles. 

Over the last 2-3 years, I got re-educated again. This time after I got involved in football coaching for kids. It seemed agility exercises and drills were more important in the warm up phase, especially in a sport like football, where the nimbleness of your lower body is needed. In came the ladders, the cones, the slaloms with the ball.... etc

When I started to receive football coaching myself, I noticed we barely did the standard army style static 'head rotation clockwise 3 counts of 4'. It was just jogging up and down a 10m lane, doing knee lifts, arm swings and stuff like that. Much more dynamic and in my opinion, a much better way to warm up the body for football in particular. 

Even at the gym, my trainer never start with a stretching session. It was always straight off to the specific station, start with manageable weights and light reps. Once that part of the body is warmed up do we proceed to the what I call the 'pump the living daylights out of your damn muscles' kind of regime. 

After the game/activity

After the game, is where I feel stretching is useful. When the body is weary, all warmed up, we sit down and stretch the leg muscles. I feel this prevents the muscles from cramping up later and at the same time, gradually improve your range of motion. 

Even at the gym, we seem to do this. My trainer spends 10-15mins at the end of the session, turning me into some kind of pretzel. He knows I play quite a bit of football and he spends time making me do the sit-n-reach kind of stretching, as well as the lower back twisting one. 

So in a nutshell...
after this unusually long post, I feel that the warm up you do before the activity should be tailored specifically to the type of activity you are embarking on. The standard static ones we used to do is much better post activity as a form of recuperation and injury prevention, as well as for improving your range of motion. 


Anonymous said...

I have to say great choice of pics especially the headlining pic!

Boonadine Limdane said...

But of course! We choose only the best looking models for our blog.

Unknown said...

Well here's an article about stretching from a tennis POV --

And another here that talks about pre-game stretching reducing explosive muscular performance --

Both seem to align with your theory that pre-game activities should include more dynamic exercises than static, and vice versa for post-game activities.

Boonadine Limdane said...

Its always nice to know i'm on the right track. Thanks Kevin! A friend mentioned, after reading my blog, that stretching may also affect the firing of the CNS (Central Nervous System). That argument looks a little technical to me at this point, although my very basic research on stretching effects on the CNS unveiled some very interesting discoveries.
If i'm ever bored enough to delve into that, I'll post it here. =)