Fact or Fiction?
If you already include stretching in your regular fitness routine, congratulations—you’re ahead of the curve. But for the 90% of us, who seem to overlook this crucial aspect of fitness, it is time to rethink how important stretching truly is.
Recently celebrating his 12 year anniversary here in Aztec Recreation, personal trainer Matt Dawson has endless knowledge when it comes to the value of flexibility training to avoid and recover from injury.
“I feel so blessed to do something for 12 years and love it just as much.”
Along with training, Matt’s passion for organic gardening, yoga, and wellbeing truly illustrates his belief that without your health, you don’t have wealth. Matt’s philosophy is that health comes from the inside out. Unfortunately, Matt is not accepting new clients at this time so we decided to sit down and pick his brain to set straight stretching truths and myths.
1. Stretching before your workout is crucial.
Matt: “In my experience, my clients have performed much better stretching after a 25-minute or longer cardio session. Think of your muscles as silly putty. When it’s cold, it will just tear apart verses when it’s had contact with heat it is the most elastic. Same goes for your muscles.”
Be sure to warm up!!
2. A majority of lower back pain comes from tight hamstrings?
Matt: “Tight hamstrings put pressure on the low back and the surrounding structures. Along with back pain, tight hamstrings limit your freedom of movement which can restrict your range of motion when performing exercises such as deadlifts.”
Greater flexibility creates an opportunity for more gains per exercise.
3. When stretching you should primary focus on larger muscle groups.
Matt: “Of course it is essential to stretch all your muscles, but if you had to focus on a particular region, aim to target those bigger muscle groups such as hamstrings and quads.”
(This doesn’t mean disregard other muscles! But if you are in a hurry aim for the big boys.)
4. No pain = No gain?
Matt: “You should feel a VERY VERY slight amount of discomfort but absolutely no pain.”
Time to rethink: Pain = NO gain!
5. Should I stretch after my workout?
False… Well kinda.
Matt: “Stretching should be PART of your workout regime. Instead of looking at stretching as something completely separate, integrate it; think of it as being just as important as your actual workout. Nothing to brush off!
6. Fast dynamic jolts vs. holding the pose?
Matt: “For the most part, I advise against dynamic stretching (fast ballistic and bouncing movements). Instead, for most people stretching for a longer period (1 minute hold in static position) will yield the best results.”
Hold those poses, feeeeeeeel the stretch!
Check out this article to clear up the stretching term confusion: http://www.livestrong.com/article/350043-stretches-definition/
What is the absolute best advice you can give to people?
Matt: “Best advice? Breathing breathing breathing! Did I mention breathing? After performing exercise your muscles begin to grow quite an appetite for oxygen and nutrients. Breathing properly allows your heart to pump oxygenated blood to your muscles. Delivering the oxygen and nutrients, your blood then can remove lactic acid and other waste products from your muscles.”
Get it? Stretching can help reduce soreness. Allowing faster recovery to hit it again sooner!
But I barely have time to work out let alone stretch.
Matt: “No excuses for this one. Sorry. A regular stretching regimen should be a part of your workout.”
Yoga classes and martial arts training emphasize stretching. If you are doing them keep it up! But if you’re not attending karate or yoga classes, then this video with Matt is a great guide to begin your stretching journey.
Of course, it’s not enough to simply stretch—it turns out, how you stretch really matters. If you’re ready to step up your mobility, it might be time to try proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, or PNF stretching.
Article by: Reyanne Mustafa
Interview with Matt Dawson