When is stretching not a good idea
Do you workout? Your kids? Or maybe even your clients? The concepts around stretching are vital to ensure that you get the most out your session and then the most out of your next.
Stretching is primarily used as a way to reduce muscle tone and relax the body to ensure maximal performance and recovery. So why can it be a bad idea sometimes?? I’m going to break down 2 specific scenarios you or someone else you know may commonly find themselves in where stretching is not a good idea.
- Post ballistic/plyometric training
- When you have tendon pain
Now before you think you don’t do ballistic style training, anyone that does a HIIT workout, goes for an interval jog or hard run, lifts quick or powerful in the gym, plays football on the weekend or even plays some recreational netball/basketball does ballistic movements. So as a result of this the muscle fibres are put on regular stretch whilst expected to exert speed and power.
Heavy static stretching (meaning holding a stretching without moving) before a session will tend to reduce the capacity of the muscle to contract fast as it will be lengthened. Think of yourself as a rubber band. A rubber band with less tension will not be able to be shot as far as a rubber band with tension. So warming up with dynamic stretching (stretching the body through movements) tends to be better recommended.
Secondly heavy static stretching after a ballistic workout is not a good idea either. A brief static stretch of 5-10 seconds x 2 sets is what I would recommend directly after the session. And then maybe an hour or two after the event depending on its intensity I would recommend you stretch for your 4 x 30-45 second holds. Why? Simply because your muscles are in a state of acute recovery and a long strong stretch will actually delay this because your muscles are undergoing further tension in a lengthened state. If you don’t believe me…..give it a go and see how you pull up!
What’s a tendon? It’s simply the strong string that connects bone to muscle. As a podiatrist I mainly see Patella tendons and Achilles tendons. But regardless all tendons respond the same to load and recovery in principal.
So if you have tendon pain….first and foremost, you should get it correctly diagnosed by your health practitioner because google is not a doctor. But secondly if it’s what we health practitioners classify as a tendinopathy than you should definitely not stretch the muscle that connects that tendon to its bone.
Why? Because the fibres of a tendon in a state of tendinopathy are disorganised. And stretching fibres further apart when they are already disorganised is a bad idea. Tendons respond much better to static load and massage through the muscle. Anti-inflammatories and rest will simply not cut it in the long term.
So is there ever a good time to do a good long stretch? Of course. Well before an event, maybe the night before training or even an hour or two after the session. These times will ensure your muscles maintain suppleness and a healthy tension. Therefore resulting in ultimately better performance. But just remember….stretching is a workout to some extent and that you should be smart when you do it based on your body type, intensity of training and your state of muscle recovery.