All mammals stretch at one time or another. Your family dog or cat has at one time or another.
Do we need to stretch and if so, when is it appropriate, and what purpose does it serve?
In the world of experts, there will always be opinions but what is their basis?
Fascia and joint flexibility.
Runners for many years were told to stretch to prevent injury however, years ago, the book Total Body Training by Gajda and Domingues, which is now out of print challenged traditional thinking showing that exercising before running prevented injuries and improved running times. They have been proven correct and now the ideas have changed over time or have they?
Then our understanding of fascia and the systems that control movement were revealed in the book Anatomy Trains by Myers who showed the fascial system is not just the junk we cut through in anatomy lab, but it is part of how we move. Many doctors who advocate stretching still have not read or heard of this book, or the Luigi Stecco books from Italian doctors who also changed how we think about movement. His methods had been also taught by Warren Hammer DC, MS who is one of our profession’s greatest providers and educators.
Fascia is made of Hyaluronic acid it does not stretch unless heated to levels most of us cannot tolerate for long. Foam rolling on the other hand does a good job of releasing fascia in a general fashion.
After exercises, after we have traumatized tissues, gentle stretching helps new fascia form more flexibly.
The science behind when to stretch and when to foam roll.
Based on what I have included in the first part of this blog, here are my recommendations on when to stretch.
Improved fascial mobility improves motion and improves form.
- First; Foam roll first generally.
- Second; joint capsule stretches are helpful afterward as are modified hurdlers stretches to improve hip and pelvic mobility.
- Third; post-exercise stretching gently to place tension on those tissues so the new fascia that forms is more flexible.
Read what the experts from the NY Times say about stretching below
How Important Is Stretching, Really?
And do you need to do it before and after every workout? Here’s what experts say about when to stretch and why.
By Hannah Seo Dec. 15, 2022
Most of us have been taught from a young age that failing to stretch before or after exercising is akin to a mortal sin. Skip your stretching routine, the thinking goes, and you’ll be more prone to injury, soreness, and a generally worse workout.
But is this wisdom backed by science? And do you really need to stretch before and after every exercise? “The simplest way to answer that question would be no,” said Dr. Samantha Smith, an assistant professor of clinical orthopedics and rehabilitation at the Yale School of Medicine.
But the longer answer, experts say, is that it depends on the type of workout you’re doing as well as your fitness goals. Here’s why.