Stretching 101, should you hold them for thirty seconds or ease into it?

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It makes sense to get loose before a workout, game, or run. But gone are the days of touching your toes and counting to ten.

Michael Bogden,P.T, Physical Therapist of the Cleveland Clinic said, nowadays dynamic stretching is the preferred. “Going through the movement and maybe holding it for a second or two. You’re doing some leg swings, some high knees, some butt kicks- a gentle warm-up is going to be great for the body.“

Bogden explained, there isn’t much research supporting the benefits of static stretching. If we stretch and hold a muscle too long, it may lose some elasticity and possible increase our chances for getting hurt. Static stretching increases a muscle’s length, which may only benefit certain athletes.

“A punter or hurdler probably does have to stretch so they can get their leg over the hurdle or kick the ball without straining their muscle, but the average person probably does not need to increase their muscle length." Said Bogden. Instead, he suggests a dynamic stretching routine that mixes very short static stretches with movements, like lunges or high-knee runs.

And, he added, sometimes if you’re tight, you may not need to stretch at all. “What a lot of people get confused on is that when they have tightness or lack of range of motion in their joints, they think they need to stretch." He said, "That’s not necessarily true, they might just have a muscle that is slightly contracted because it’s fatigued and maybe you just need to rub it out to get it back to it’s normal resting length.”

Bogden concluded, it’s more about warming-up for an activity- not stretching alone. Getting your core body temperature up slightly with a dynamic warm-up is a good place to start any activity.

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