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August 17, 2004

The Brainfertilizer Way to Stretch Muscles « The Brain Fertilizer Way »

This post is closely related to yesterday's about running. I ain't talking about yoga here, folks.

Any time you talk about stretching in relation to exercise, you should at least address the controversy: to stretch or not to stretch?

Personally, I say don't stretch. At least, not before you exercise. I used to stretch to a count of 15 for each major muscle group before exercising, and to a count of 10 afterwards. Then I read an article that insisted warming up beforehand had both beneficial and harmful effects, and so the result was pretty much a wash. See, loosening up the muscles may lessen the chance of a pulled muscle, but since the muscles are looser, your joints don't have as much support and so you are probably equally increasing the chance for an injury to your connective tissue.

So I stopped stretching beforehand, and I did notice a minor improvement on my 2-mile time, but well within margins of error to possibly be imagination. And yet, and yet: no injuries. None. I'm close to 40 years old, run quite a bit, and I've never had a problem with pulled muscles, painful knees, or shin splints. Then again, maybe I'm just lucky?

A few years later, I was trying to increase my flexibility, because I could barely touch my toes. I had never stopped stretching after exercising, so I started increasing the stretch time to a ver-r-ry slow 40 count. I also always bend my knees slightly...I think locking the knees while stretching is a bad idea, personally.

My flexibility has increased to the point that I feel like I'm getting the best of both worlds: I am more flexible before stretching than most guys are after stretching, so I feel like I'm not risking any pulled muscles, but my joints are still protected by not having my muscles too loose.

In any case, it works for me. Your mileage may vary.

Posted by Nathan at 12:54 PM | Comments (3)

I avoid both stretching and exercise so I need worry about none of that.

Pass the Fritos please.

Posted by: Sharp as a Marble at August 17, 2004 01:02 PM

Ummm, careful. You don't want to pull something.

Posted by: Nathan at August 17, 2004 01:41 PM

OW! I got salt in a paper cut!

Posted by: Sharp as a Marble at August 17, 2004 04:20 PM