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Pei-Jiun Cheah

Warm up: To stretch or not to stretch? That is the question.

I often see many people perform static stretches at the gym, before dancing or sport. But is this really the best way to prepare your body for exercise and performance?

Studies have shown that static stretching prior to activity is detrimental to your performance and can also result in increased rates of injury.

Static stretching is a stretch that is held for a period of time, for example 10 seconds to a few minutes. If you hold static stretches prior to activity you will experience a decrease in:

*Jump height
*Reaction time
*Movement time

Instead of including static stretches in your warm up, you should instead:

  • Gradually increase your cardiovascular activity so you build up a slight sweat
  • Take your spinal joints, joints of your upper and lower limb through the range of motion needed for the impending activity
  • Mobilise and gently stretch the major muscle groups that will be used (eg dynamic stretching)
  • Activate stability muscles throughout your body so they are ready to work at a higher intensity
  • Take the major muscle groups through their range of motion and speed of movement so they are ready for the demands of the anticipated movements to come
  • Include some balance and proprioception exercises specific to the activity

Why warm up?

  • Prepares your body and mind to go from a state of rest to a state of physical activity
  • Reduces your risk of injury
  • Improves coordination
  • Improves technique
  • Enhances psychological focus – allows for some internal reflection on ‘how does my body feel today?’

So whenever you are about to begin your sport or activity try to be safe and include some if not all the above tips into your warm up. If you are unsure about how to warm up effectively, book in a consultation with Cathleen or Pei-Jiun so they can help you tailor a safe warm up and cool down program specific to your sport or activity.

Watch this space to find out how long and how often to stretch to maintain or increase your flexibility.

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