http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/02/sports/playmagazine/112pewarm.html?_r=0

Stretching: The Truth

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS
Published: October 31, 2008

WHEN DUANE KNUDSON, a professor of kinesiology at California State University, Chico, looks around

campus at athletes warming up before practice, he sees one dangerous mistake after another.

“They’re stretching, touching their toes. . . . ” He sighs. “It’s discouraging.”

STRAIGHT-LEG MARCH (for the hamstrings and gluteus muscles)Kick one leg straight out in front of you,with your toes flexed toward the sky. Reach your opposite arm to the upturned toes. Drop the leg and

repeat with the opposite limbs. Continue the sequence for at least six or seven repetitions.

SCORPION (for the lower back, hip flexors and gluteus muscles) Lie on your stomach, with your armsoutstretched and your feet flexed so that only your toes are touching the ground. Kick your right foot

toward your left arm, then kick your left foot toward your right arm. Since this is an advanced exercise,

begin slowly, and repeat up to 12 times.

HANDWALKS (for the shoulders, core muscles and hamstrings) Stand straight, with your legs together.

Bend over until both hands are flat on the ground. ‘‘Walk’’ your hands forward until your back is almost

extended. Keeping your legs straight, inch your feet toward your hands, then walk your hands forward

again. Repeat five or six times.

If you’re like most of us, you were taught the importance of warm-up exercises back in grade school,

and you’ve likely continued with pretty much the same routine ever since. Science, however, has

moved on. Researchers now believe that some of the more entrenched elements of many athletes’

warm-up regimens are not only a waste of time but actually bad for you. The old presumption that

holding a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds — known as static stretching — primes muscles for a workout

is dead wrong. It actually weakens them. In a recent study conducted at the University of Nevada,

Las Vegas, athletes generated less force from their leg muscles after static stretching than they did

after not stretching at all. Other studies have found that this stretching decreases muscle strength

by as much as 30 percent. Also, stretching one leg’s muscles can reduce strength in the other leg as

well, probably because the central nervous system rebels against the movements.

“There is a neuromuscular inhibitory response to static stretching,” says Malachy McHugh, the

director of research at the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma at Lenox Hill

Hospital in New York City. The straining muscle becomes less responsive and stays weakened for

up to 30 minutes after stretching, which is not how an athlete wants to begin a workout.

THE RIGHT WARM-UP should do two things: loosen muscles and tendons to increase the range of

motion of various joints, and literally warm up the body. When you’re at rest, there’s less blood flow

to muscles and tendons, and they stiffen. “You need to make tissues and tendons compliant before

beginning exercise,” Knudson says.

A well-designed warm-up starts by increasing body heat and blood flow. Warm muscles and dilated

blood vessels pull oxygen from the bloodstream more efficiently and use stored muscle fuel more

effectively. They also withstand loads better. One significant if gruesome study found that the

leg-muscle tissue of laboratory rabbits could be stretched farther before ripping if it had been

electronically stimulated — that is, warmed up.

To raise the body’s temperature, a warm-up must begin with aerobic activity, usually light jogging.

Most coaches and athletes have known this for years. That’s why tennis players run around the

court four or five times before a match and marathoners stride in front of the starting line. But

many athletes do this portion of their warm-up too intensely or too early. A 2002 study of collegiate

volleyball players found that those who’d warmed up and then sat on the bench for 30 minutes had

lower backs that were stiffer than they had been before the warm-up. And a number of recent

studies have demonstrated that an overly vigorous aerobic warm-up simply makes you tired.

Most experts advise starting your warm-up jog at about 40 percent of your maximum heart rate

(a very easy pace) and progressing to about 60 percent. The aerobic warm-up should take only 5 to

10 minutes, with a 5-minute recovery. (Sprinters require longer warm-ups, because the loads exerted

on their muscles are so extreme.) Then it’s time for the most important and unorthodox part of a

proper warm-up regimen, the Spider-Man and its counterparts.

“TOWARDS THE end of my playing career, in about 2000, I started seeing some of the other guys

out on the court doing these strange things before a match and thinking, What in the world is that?”

says Mark Merklein, 36, once a highly ranked tennis player and now a national coach for the

United States Tennis Association. The players were lunging, kicking and occasionally skittering,

spider-like, along the sidelines. They were early adopters of a new approach to stretching.

While static stretching is still almost universally practiced among amateur athletes — watch your

child’s soccer team next weekend — it doesn’t improve the muscles’ ability to perform with more

power, physiologists now agree. “You may feel as if you’re able to stretch farther after holding a

stretch for 30 seconds,” McHugh says, “so you think you’ve increased that muscle’s readiness.”

But typically you’ve increased only your mental tolerance for the discomfort of the stretch.

The muscle is actually weaker.

Stretching muscles while moving, on the other hand, a technique known as dynamic stretching or

dynamic warm-ups, increases power, flexibility and range of motion. Muscles in motion don’t

experience that insidious inhibitory response. They instead get what McHugh calls “an excitatory

message” to perform.

Dynamic stretching is at its most effective when it’s relatively sports specific. “You need

range-of-motion exercises that activate all of the joints and connective tissue that will be needed

for the task ahead,” says Terrence Mahon, a coach with Team Running USA, home to the Olympic

marathoners Ryan Hall and Deena Kastor. For runners, an ideal warm-up might include squats,

lunges and “form drills” like kicking your buttocks with your heels. Athletes who need to move

rapidly in different directions, like soccer, tennis or basketball players, should do dynamic

stretches that involve many parts of the body. “Spider-Man” is a particularly good drill: drop onto

all fours and crawl the width of the court, as if you were climbing a wall. (For other dynamic

stretches, see the sidebar below.)

Even golfers, notoriously nonchalant about warming up (a recent survey of 304 recreational

golfers found that two-thirds seldom or never bother), would benefit from exerting themselves

a bit before teeing off. In one 2004 study, golfers who did dynamic warm- up exercises and

practice swings increased their clubhead speed and were projected to have dropped their

handicaps by seven strokes over seven weeks.

Controversy remains about the extent to which dynamic warm-ups prevent injury.

But studies have been increasingly clear that static stretching alone before exercise does little

or nothing to help. The largest study has been done on military recruits; results showed that

an almost equal number of subjects developed lower-limb injuries (shin splints, stress fractures, etc.),

regardless of whether they had performed static stretches before training sessions. A major study

published earlier this year by the Centers for Disease Control, on the other hand, found that knee

injuries were cut nearly in half among female collegiate soccer players who followed a warm-up

program that included both dynamic warm-up exercises and static stretching.

(For a sample routine, visit www.aclprevent.com/pepprogram.htm.) And in golf, new research

by Andrea Fradkin, an assistant professor of exercise science at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania,

suggests that those who warm up are nine times less likely to be injured.

“It was eye-opening,” says Fradkin, formerly a feckless golfer herself. “I used to not really

warm up. I do now.”

You’re Getting Warmer: The Best Dynamic Stretches

These exercises- as taught by the United States Tennis Association’s player-development program –

are good for many athletes, even golfers. Do them immediately after your aerobic warm-up and

as soon as possible before your workout.

STRAIGHT-LEG MARCH

(for the hamstrings and gluteus muscles)

Kick one leg straight out in front of you, with your toes flexed toward the sky. Reach your opposite

arm to the upturned toes. Drop the leg and repeat with the opposite limbs. Continue the

sequence for at least six or seven repetitions.

SCORPION

(for the lower back, hip flexors and gluteus muscles)

Lie on your stomach, with your arms outstretched and your feet flexed so that only your toes are

touching the ground. Kick your right foot toward your left arm, then kick your leftfoot toward your

right arm. Since this is an advanced exercise, begin slowly, and repeat up to 12 times.

HANDWALKS

(for the shoulders, core muscles, and hamstrings)

Stand straight, with your legs together. Bend over until both hands are flat on the ground.

“Walk” with your hands forward until your back is almost extended. Keeping your legs straight,

inch your feet toward your hands, then walk your hands forward again. Repeat five or six times. G.R.

More Articles in Sports » A version of this article appeared in print on November 2, 2008, on page MM20 of the New York edition.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dynamic Flexibility vs. Static Stretching for Warm Up

By Jon Ransom, PTA, ATC and Timothy Brinker, PT, OCS, FAAOMPT-Director Hillsboro Physical Therapy

A proper warm-up routine is very important to the health and performance of an athlete. If the body is not adequately

prepared for the demands of the upcoming sport or activity, injury is more likely to occur.  In addition, it is impossible

for the body to perform to the peak of its ability without warm, flexible muscles.

In the past, static stretching was the preferred method of pre-activity warm-up, and is still used to a large extent.

Static stretches are performed with a prolonged hold and are used to increase the length of soft tissue and the

flexibility of a specific muscle.  This form of stretching has the most profound effect on a specific tissue known

as collagen. Collagen is the cellular framework found in our muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Recent research

has found that static stretches have a neuromuscular effect on the muscle’s performance and may decrease

strength in the stretched muscle group for up to one hour.  It is our belief that this induced weakness could

contribute to an increased risk of injury.  Static stretching still has its place, and is still an important aspect of

an athlete’s overall health.  Static stretches help to reduce injury by maximizing flexibility and improving biomechanics.

Static stretching is very useful and beneficial to be done not only after activity, but also to increase and maintain

muscle length and flexibility.

Recently, however, there has been more warm-up programs that utilize a dynamic approach.  Dynamic warm-up

focuses more on the neuromuscular system of the muscle complex. These dynamic activities will aide in short term

flexibility gains and the resting tone through stimulation of the Golgi tendon organs. These organs are hidden

deep in the muscle and measure muscle tension to protect it from injury.  These organs are likely to over react

if not appropriately conditioned and prepared for activity.  For example, the knee accelerates forward during running

and the muscle tension increases rapidly. The Golgi tendon organ can stimulate a protective/reflexive muscle contraction

at the time of rapid stretch/acceleration, this mechanism has been theorized to be the mechanism of a muscular strain.

Dynamic warm-ups can have a dampening effect on this Golgi tendon complex, making them less reactive during normal

activity levels, and without decreasing strength as noted in static stretching.  Dynamic warm-ups can increase

muscular flexibility for the short-term through the neuromuscular system and potentially reduce injury though

decreasing reflexive muscle contractions.

The reasons listed above point to dynamic activities being ideal components for pre-activity and sport warm-up.

There has also been recent research on the effect of dynamic warm-up specifically for soccer activities.

These research articles have found that dynamic warm-up can enhance performance in such areas as sprinting,

dribbling with cutting, kick power through increased hip range of motion, and kick velocity. While static stretching

was found to be detrimental to the performance of these same activities.

Pictured below are some dynamic flexibility exercises that can be added to any pre-activity warm-up program.

These exercises will prepare all of the main muscle groups to perform at their best and significantly decrease

the chance of injury. Also pictured below are some static stretching exercises that can be utilized outside of athletics

and post activity to further decrease chance of injury. Listed below are a few of the articles that

support dynamic warm up over static stretching.

Dynamic flexibility exercises

Deep Lunges with Rotation

Deep Lunge Deep Lunge w/Rotation Deep Lunge w/Rotation

Lunge forward with either foot, keeping knee over 2nd toe, and rotate upper body towards forward leg.

Return to standing and repeat immediately with other leg. Exercise should also be done rotating upper body away

from front leg. Do about 10 reps of each.

Side-to-Side Lunges

Side Lunges Side Lunge Side Lunge

Start in low squat position. Slowly shift body back and forth from left to right, staying as low as possible.

Shift to left until right leg is straight, then to right until left leg is straight. Do about 10 reps to each side.

Dipping Birds

dippingBird1 Dipping Bird

Step forward with right foot, bend forward at the waist, and reach left hand to the right foot without bending right knee.

Return to standing, then step forward with left foot, bend forward at waist, and reach right hand to the left foot

without bending knee. Do about 10 reps for each leg.

Sprinter Stretch

Sprinter Stretch

In push-up position, with trunk slightly bent, cross right foot over left foot and pump left foot up and down.

Do about 10-15 repetitions, then put left foot over right and repeat.

Static Stretches

Gastroc/Soleus Stretch

Gastroc/Soleus Stretch

Lean forward against wall or bench with front leg bent and back leg straight with heel on ground.

Slowly lean body forward until stretch is felt in back calf muscle. Hold stretch for 30 seconds without bouncing.

Repeat for other leg. Do 2-3 repetitions for each leg.

Standing Hamstring Stretch

Standing Hamstring Stretch

While standing, rest one foot up on bench or step.

Both the foot on the step and the one on the ground should be pointing straight forward. Slowly lean forward at waist

until stretch is felt in back of leg that is up on step. Hold stretch for 30 seconds without bouncing.

Do 2-3 repetitions for each leg.

Satan Pose

Satan Pose

In lunge position with right knee on ground, grab right foot with right hand and pull foot back until stretch is felt

on front of right leg. Then slowly lean body forward onto left leg until stretch is felt on front of right hip.

Hold for 30 seconds. Do 2-3 repetitions for each leg.

Standing IT Band Stretch

Standing IT Band Stretch

While standing, cross right foot over left foot. Then shift hips to left until stretch is felt on outside of left hip.

Move right foot out away from body further if more stretch is needed. Hold for 30 seconds.

Repeat same steps to stretch right leg. Do 2-3 repetitions for each leg.

Sunrise Stretch

Sunrise Stretch

Lying on right side with knees bent up to waist level, place right hand on top of left knee and slowly rotate upper body

to the left, keeping left arm straight. Rotate body until stretch is felt in mid back. Move left arm up towards head more

until stretch is felt in front of shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat for other side.Do 2-3 repetitions for each side.

Figure 4 Piriformis Stretch

Figure 4 Piriformis Stretch

Lying on back with knees up, rest right foot on top of left knee. Reach both hands behind left thigh and pull left leg

back until stretch is felt in right buttock. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat for other side. Do 2-3 repetitions for each leg.

Articles that support dynamic warm up over static stretching

Amiri-Khorasani, M., Abu Osman, N.A., & Yusof, A. (2011). Acute Effect of Static and Dynamic Stretching on

Hip Dynamic Range of Motion During Instep Kicking in Professional Soccer Players.

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, February 24, 2011.

Kistler, B.M., Walsh, M.S., Horn, T.S., & Cox, R.H. (2010). The Acute Effects of Static Stretching on the

Sprint Performance of Collegiate Men in the 60- and 100-m Dash After a Dynamic Warm-Up.

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24 (9), 2280-2284.

Gelen, E. (2010). Acute Effects of Different Warm-Up Methods on Sprint, Slalom Dribbling, and Penalty Kick

Performance in Soccer Players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24 (4), 952-954.

McMillian, D. J., Moore, J.H., Hatler, B.S., & Taylor, D.C. (2006). Dynamic vs. static-stretching warm up:

The effect on power and agility performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 20 (3), 492-499.

Nelson, R.T., (2006). A comparison of the immediate effects of eccentric training vs. static stretch on hamstring

flexibility in high school and college athletes. North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 1 (2), 56-61.

Fowles, J.R., Sale, D.G., & MacDougall, J.D. (2000). Reduced strength after passive stretch of the human plantarflexors.

Journal of Applied Physiology, 89 (3), 1179-1188.

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