A great topic that can only grow and grow!
I first heard of ‘stretching’ from my old coach Pecker (Derry Woodhouse) when he tacked a sheet of stretches to the inner doors of the boathouse. The sheet lasted forever and I think it only got removed when the doors were replaced back in the 90’s. Anyway, I resurrected that and another good stretching info sheet for your perusal. One thing I found was that we stretched because we were told to! We really didn’t appreciate how or why we stretched; The question is do you?
Flexibility is the functional capacity of the joints to move through a full range of movement. It is specific to each joint of the body and muscles, ligaments & tendons determine the amount of movement possible at each joint. Stretching maintains, improves and develops flexibility. It also allows assessment of your own or others flexibility; Most importantly stretching allows you to complete the warm-down phase of any session by returning muscles to the original size (pre-exercise) while encouraging blood flow that transports exercise by-products away from the muscles for processing while replenishing oxygen and helping the muscles being stretched to recover quicker. Y’know that stiffness after a hard session – you can lessen that by properly warming down and stretching!
Stretches before exercise (pre-stretches) should only be attempted after a warm up(however brief) and should last 7 – 10 seconds per stretch. Post-stretches (after exercise) should be held for 15 – 30 seconds. Both stretch-types should be to the point of tension and not to the point of pain. If your muscle starts shuddering then you’ve gone too far (your muscle spindles have activated and you’re not even stretching any more). [Note: I started doing a three minute cool-down walk on a flat surface after every run last January and my overnight recovery almost immediately improved]
Have a look below and try the stretches. REMEMBER TO LIMBER UP. Don’t stretch when cold. Don’t over stretch in case you injure a muscle and try do stand-up stretches near a wall or some support (stretching and balancing are two different inter-related disciplines).
I’ll develop this topic further in the coming months.
Here’s another bank of stretches that pretty well cover all the areas of the body that you’ll use while using an erg, running, weight training – the head band is totally optional.