Stretching: Good or Bad?
Exercise Scientist & Sports Trainer
There is no such thing as a good or bad stretch. Its all in how you do itů
Over the last few months my inbox has been flooded with concerns about which stretches are good and which stretches are bad. In all cases someone has told the inquirer that they shouldn't do this stretch or that stretch, or that this is a good stretch and this is a bad stretch.
Some people have even seen stretches on our web site and emailed me to say (out of genuine concern) that this is a bad stretch because their coach, trainer or friend told them so.
So, are there only good stretches and bad stretches? Is there no middle ground? And if there are only good and bad stretches, how do you decide which ones are good and which ones are bad?
Let's put an end to the confusion once and for all...
You see, the stretch itself isn't good or bad, it's the way it's performed and who it's performed on that makes it effective and safe, or ineffective and harmful. To place a particular stretch into a category of "Good" or "Bad" is foolish and dangerous. To label a stretch as "Good" gives people the impression that they can do that stretch whenever and however they want and it won't cause them any problems.
More about stretching, below....
The specific requirements of the individual are
Make a general
review of the individual.
Make a specific
review of the area, or muscle group to be stretched.
If the muscle group being stretched isn't 100% healthy avoid stretching this area altogether. Work on recovery and rehabilitation before moving onto specific stretching exercises. If however, the individual is healthy and the area to be stretched is free from injury, then apply the following to all stretches.
The stretch to the right causes many a person to go into complete melt-down. It has a reputation as a dangerous, bad stretch and should be avoided at all costs. Even just thinking about this stretch may cause injury.
So why is it that at every Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games and World Championships you see sprinters doing this stretch before their events? Let's apply the above checks to find out.
Firstly, consider the person performing the stretch. Are they healthy, fit and physically active? If not, this isn't a stretch they should be doing. Are they elderly, over weight and unfit? Are they young and still growing? Do they lead a sedentary lifestyle? If so, they should avoid this stretch!
This first consideration alone would prohibit 50% of the population from doing this stretch.
Secondly, review the area to be stretched. This stretch obviously puts a large strain on the muscles of the hamstrings and lower back. So if your hamstrings or lower back aren't 100% healthy, don't do this stretch.
This second consideration would probably rule out another 25%, which means this stretch is only suitable for about 25% of the population. Or, the well trained, physically fit, injury free athlete.
Then apply the four precautions above and the well trained, physically fit, injury free athlete can perform this stretch safely and effectively.
Remember, the stretch itself isn't good or bad. It's the way it's performed and who it's performed on that makes it effective and safe, or ineffective and harmful.
To learn more about Brad Walker and the correct stretches and exercise you need to be doing, click here.
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