The Latest Research on Stretching

We’ve all been conditioned to start any exercise with a good strrrrretch. What many people don’t know is that when it comes to warming up for a workout, stretching may not be the way to go.

The most common “old school” form of stretching is known as static stretching. In static stretching, you stretch a muscle to its farthest point and, using body weight or opposing muscle groups, hold a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Imagine being in gym class, wearing your gray sweatpants, reaching for your toes as far as you could go.

In the past, it was the norm to stretch this way before a workout. However, recent stretching research shows that static stretching is an ineffective way to prepare for exercise, as it doesn’t warm you up, prevent injury or enhance performance. In fact, static stretching before a workout can actually impede performance.  In an article published in the Journal of Sport Sciences, Rosenbaum and Hennig (vol. 13, no. 6) showed that static stretching prior to exercise reduced peak force by 5% and the rate of force production by 8%.

A better way to prepare for your Koko Smartrainer strength workouts is with a dynamic warm-up. A dynamic warm-up prepares your muscles for activity by warming them up through more natural movement, instead of stretching inactive muscles that are cold and stiff.  A simple dynamic warm-up is doing 5 minutes of cardio while moving your arms to get the blood pumping throughout your muscle groups. And, each Koko Cardio workout already includes a dynamic warm-up in each session.

So, before your next workout, skip the toe touches and, instead, hop on the treadmill or elliptical to get those muscles warmed up. Think of the dynamic warm-up as a way to turn on your nervous system. For more information, check out a great article from the NY Times.

Michael Wood, CSCS


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