Top three mistakes so many people make when it comes to stretching.....
Recovery and how best to recover after training and events was a hot topic that we covered a lot when attending our recent events. The world of recovery can be a confusing place, with a host of complicated solutions like ice baths, compression garments and nutritional supplements. It is out-with the scope of this particular blog post to delve into the research or lack thereof into these products and strategies. However, the one thing that I think is fair to say from the majority of our discussions post-event was that perhaps these often expensive, often unpleasant (in particular the ice bath) and often poorly researched methods are being considered when the basics are not being covered first!
I have lost count of the amount of times that given the scenario of:
“What would you add into your current daily routine if I gave you an extra 20mins a day?”
The answer is
“I would use it to stretch” or “work on my mobility”.
This is true of recreational athletes, elite athletes and desk-based clients. Yet we are all guilty of jumping and buying the latest Underarmour leggings or nutritional supplement or drink. I am not saying these do not have their place, in fact one International team that I work with must have compression garments on all flights and ready to put on post-training or game. The difference here is they all do a comprehensive cool-down and stretching program post-game and this is the adjunct. They get the basics right, then get more complex with the compression garments and ice baths. However, if it was a choice of either post-event stretching or wearing compression leggings? No contest in my book. This is of course my opinion before Underarmour’s lawyers get in touch!
Now, even this most basic exercise can be done wrong. We spent a good deal of time with clients post-event this year making sure these basics are nailed before they spend their hard earned money on more expensive recovery methods. Here are the top 3 mistakes that people were making in their stretching routines;
1. Not stretching regularly enough
(You won't learn to play the piano if you only practice once a week!)
Like everything else, you cannot expect to get better or even maintain progress when you are not consistently stressing the tissues. So make sure before and after every training session you are targeting the appropriate muscle groups. Remember you must have rest days built into your week. These are great days to add in longer stretching sessions.
2. Not stretching long enough (you have committed to doing it, so don't quit before you get the pay out!)
Unfortunately, 5s is not going to cut it. It must be a minimum of 30s these simple stretches must be held for. Ideally 40-45s.
3. Static vs. Dynamic. (nobody has dessert before their breakfast..)
Research is pretty clear on this one. Static stretches (holding for 30-45s) prior to exercise may help lengthen a tight muscle but actually have detriment on your performance. Dynamic stretching (gradually lengthening the muscle with active movements) has the same effect on muscle length but no detriment to performance. So do you dynamic stretches first. Static stretches after.
So that has complicated things now hasn't it! Well don't worry. It is simple. We have filmed a few simple ways of targeting the key lower limb muscle groups as well as a quick non-specific dynamic warm-up in our upcoming video series filmed at the Kiltwalk in Potarch. Hopefully you find these helpful in nailing the basics of stretching as a recovery tool. These are of course basic stretches and our team can help you during massage session to be more specific to problem areas. Part two of our recovery blogpost will go more into how getting the basics nailed mean you can make the most of other recovery options like massage therapy