Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stretching for Rock stars

A little lesson on stretching, thanks to my coach, Becca.  Also download beautiful people by Chris Brown. Good song.
STRETCHING may help prevent injuries and strains. This is the current, common thinking, but it's not proven. Stretching reduces post-training soreness. Evidence suggests that longer muscles and tendons are more powerful and have better elastic properties, and so probably improve running economy. Stretching is effective in increasing flexibility, and again, that is why so many runners partake in yoga. Joint motion is limited by joint capsules, ligaments, tendons and muscles. These tissues can be successfully elongated with stretching exercises. Some stretching has a merely temporary effect, based on the elastic properties of the tissue stretched. Other effects of stretching can be long-lasting.
When NOT to stretch:
Please be cautious about stretching when injured. Don't aggravate an injury by pulling more on an injured area. Use stretching to prevent reinjury when healed. An exception: some muscles/ligaments can be stretched at the other end, away from an injury. For example, when your IT band is a problem, you can stretch the other end, near your hip. Sit down, and with both hands pull your knees towards the opposite armpit. Stretching before running, when the muscles are COLD may sprain ligaments or strain muscles, stretch inside when possible.
Guidelines to Stretching:
-A stretch workout can be done in 15 minutes. If you have the time, it can easily occupy a half hour.
-Develop a stretching routine, and stretch in the same order. This is great for no missing any stretches.
-Stretch the muscle groups that are most important for you early in your routine.
-Some joints can be stretched in several directions. Develop your routine so as to stretch these motions in sequence.
-Stretch sloooooooooooooooooowly and gradually. DO NOT BOUNCE when you are stretching.  There is a basic neurological reflex called the stretch flexor. When a muscle is suddenly stretched, the reflex contracts/shortens the muscle. If you stretch slowly, the reflex is not activated. Fast stretching is usually counterproductive.
-Stretch to tightness, but not to the point of pain.
-Hold stretches for at least 29 seconds and up to 60 seconds- everyone will be different on this one
-Stretching is more effective when your muscles are warm. Avoid stretching first thing in the morning when you are otherwise stiff. If your routine provides the time to stretch in the am, first jog for 10 minutes or do some other general exercise.
-As discussed above, (and it's important, so I am throwing it in again) do not stretch an injury.
Put Your Mind in Your Muscle:
Concentrate on how the muscle being stretched feels during the stretch. This will help in ensuring proper tension and help you to maximize gains, utilize proper form and prevent injury. If you pay more attention to the range of motion than to how the muscle feels, you tendency will be for you to "cheat" yourself. (for example if you are doing the hamstring stretch, if you focus on placing your head to your knee, the tendency will be to bend the back and flex the neck  in effort to help get your head to your knee, BUT the hamstring will not to properly stretched- so again, focus on what you are stretching, really pay attention.
Also, a super happy birthday yesterday to my Megaloon!  Welcome to 27, my love!

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