Visit Bodyspecs at for more Fitness and Sports Performance Information

Saturday, November 26, 2011

why injuries still happen even though
you stretch
PART 1 of 2

STRETCHING does NOT prevent injuries. The RIGHT stretch reduces the risk of injuries and lessens the severity. Now, stretching has long been debated as a key element to preventing injuries. Well this just is not true. There is really no empirical evidence that stretching before or after an event or exercise prevents injury. Some athletes that compete can have long careers without any injury. These athletes either know how to periodize their training or they are 'playing' safe when it comes to competition. Whatever the case, what happens when all the stretching you do does not seem to work?

In my years in treating orthopedic injuries there is  a common pattern and theme that goes with most injuries: improper and dated stretching techniques. What a majority of athletes and weekend warriors don't know is what is 'happening' when you stretch. The goal of stretching is to improve joint range of motion. We can all agree on this basic premise. Now, when you stretch, the idea is to get all the muscles, ligaments and tendons ready to distribute the energy caused by high amplitude activities ie. running, jumping, direction change, etc. But the key is to get the tissue to 'creep' if the stretch is going to be affective.

When a tissue is stretched and sustained the goal is to create creep: the tissue actually proceeds to elongate to is 'normal' length or beyond its normal length (I will tell you why that's a bad idea) and it will hold that length to allow for a nice supple joint that can accommodate the stresses imposed upon it. Unfortunately, this does not last long, especially if you do not stretch consistently enough;this is the common error when I evaluate injuries. The next stage in stretching is deformation. This is the stage where the tissue is actually stretched beyond its normal tolerances. This is called tensile capacity. The reason this is not a good place to be because the joint can have TOO much mobility at the wrong time! And believe it or not more injuries happen in this range than not being flexible enough! A joint that is hypermobile (too flexible) adds increased loads on the restraint structures that go beyond tensile capacities.If you are still not convinced then observe muscle injuries in professional sports, and little league where coaches are teaching kids dated stretches. Its these restraint structures that protect us from injury.

There is much debate on stretching dynamic or sustained(holding for a given amount of time). The research is overwhelming and has been for quite awhile that dynamic stretching is superior. I have long felt not just from my studies but understanding how to manage sport related injuries, dynamic is far superior. Dynamic stretching before training is the preferred and highly recommended way to prepare the body for sport or any activity. I am in favor of sustained stretch AFTER training and even then I have my own that I recommend which will be featured in part two of this blog.....


No comments:

Post a Comment