The Fitness Nugget: By Neil Fox
Stretching: THE NEW RESEARCH
There are many contradictory theories and practices of stretching. Traditionally we were taught static stretching was best. From recent conferences and readings of respected researchers on this topic, I now suggest dynamic stretching is more beneficial...and here's why.
- Muscle Or Fascia? - When you stretch, you are not actually stretching muscle but the surrounding soft collagen formed tissues called fascia. (Dalcourt)
- Fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds and secures muscle bodies, nerves, blood vessels...everything. It holds us together, it helps us move, it hinders our movement.
- Static Stretching gradually lengthens muscles' connective tissue, as the position is held 30 - 90 seconds, while the body is at rest. Stretching without muscle activity does elongate fascial tissue outside the muscle belly and surrounding areas, but does not stimulate the fascia layered within the muscle belly itself (Huijing); therefore, not all layers needed for performance are activated.
- Dynamic Stretching is stretching in movement with a muscle loading pattern so the muscle is both activated and extended - a more comprehensive stimulation of fascial tissues. (Jami)
- Movement Not Muscle - Instead of stretching isolated muscle groups, dynamic stretches target the longest possible myofascial chains (Myers). Dynamic stretching acts as both a warm-up and a mobility exercise. Some examples of dynamic stretching are yoga, martial arts, tai chi, pilates and TRX. Don't get me wrong, static stretching may benefit some people in certain situations. But dynamic stretching may have more benefit to most people most of the time.
- Take Home Message - It might be more productive to NOT statically stretch your body...get dynamic! Stretch with full body movements in rhythm, range of motion, direction and load (Dalcourt). Don't stretch muscle, train your fascia. Fascianating (Fox).