STRETCHES, HOW, WHEN AND HOW MUCH?
Stretching has always been a fundamental part of training. But science has been putting different questions on the table about what types of stretching are recommended depending on the time of training, or the capacities that are going to be trained in it. When we were little, after warming up, we stretched, or some stretched by rebounding, this is no longer valid. Science advances, paradigms change.
Not so long ago, in Physical Education classes, in group class sessions in the gym, in workouts for your favorite sport, etc., after the warm-up, and before the main part, static stretching was included. In fact, it is still common to see people who continue to do so, since they have not consulted with a qualified trainer. Static stretches are effective in increasing joint range of motion, which is why it has been thought that they may be beneficial in improving performance and reducing the incidence of injury. However, the latest scientific evidence suggests that static stretching may impair performance immediately afterward. That is, this type of stretching is not recommended during warm-up, in pre-activation.
Static stretching involves elongation of the muscle until a sensation of stretching occurs or a point of discomfort is reached, and at this point it is maintained for a specified time. This type of stretching is used both to improve the quality of life and to increase sports performance, with the aim of reducing the risk of injury thanks to the increased range of joint mobility. But, as we have indicated before, its effects can be negative if later you want to perform at your best. It has been found that the longer the stretch lasts, the greater the deterioration in performance. The average reduction in performance, caused by static stretching, is approximately 5%. If these types of stretches last 60 seconds or more,
Dynamic stretching involves performing a controlled movement through the range of motion of an active joint, that is, achieving the maximum possible range of motion. These types of stretches seem to be better for preparation before a sports activity. This is for three reasons: similarity of the movement pattern of stretching and subsequent exercise, they can continue to raise the core temperature, and they can also continue to raise the intensity of the warm-up as a preparatory part of the main activity. There is no solid evidence that these stretches can later improve performance, but what is certain is that they do not decrease it.
Therefore, it is best to include dynamic stretching in the warm-up. At the end of training we can include static stretching, to increase the range of joint mobility, since afterwards we do not need to perform. To increase the range of mobility we can also use the PNF method (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation). For this last method, it is advisable to have a person assist us, since, broadly speaking, it is about combining static stretching with isometric contractions. PNF has proven to be the most effective method for gaining greater joint width in a short time.
When you stretch, you must take into account intensity, duration, frequency, and position. Intensity will determine the force generated during stretching to influence tissue response. For example, if little force is exerted, it may be that the elastic response hardly achieves a gain in joint mobility. On the contrary, excessive force can damage the tissues, leading to an inflammatory response. The position directly affects the intensity of the stretch, since slight modifications can cause an area to stretch more or less.
To be more flexible, consult with your trainer, since your FAST sessions can end with passive stretching or PNF. Electrostimulation can be a facilitator of stretching, especially with PNF, and can also help reduce the inflammatory response when stretching is intense.