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Pain and Flexibility Training: Should You Stretch?

Debate on this subject continues to a topic of ongoing discussions among health and fitness professionals, often polarizing their applications of flexibility training. Through your reading/experience/research, you've been exposed to a continuum of flexibility and stretching techniques. e.g (static streecing, SMR neuromuscular stretching)etc. Each technique performs differently and has a specific desired outcome (e.g. neural inhibition, increasing length, improving co-activation, and integrating dynamic movement patterns). So, should you stretch? From your experience, what side of the fence do you fall on?

2. What's your position about clients that experience muscle pain even though they are not flexible? Do you think they should perform stretching techniques, if so which techniques are better for them?

Thank you.

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Hi,

Interesting questions! Let's take a closer look.

1. Debate on this subject continues to a topic of ongoing discussions among health and fitness professionals, often polarizing their applications of flexibility training. Through your reading/experience/research, you've been exposed to a continuum of flexibility and stretching techniques e.g. (static stretching, SMR neuromuscular stretching) etc. Each technique performs differently and has a specific desired outcome (e.g. neural inhibition, increasing length, improving co-activation, and integrating dynamic movement patterns). So, should you stretch? From your experience, what side of the fence do you fall on?

Stretching is important to increase flexibility. Flexibility is our ability to flex, extend or move our joints. It denotes our joints' extended range of motion without loss of strength. Therefore, it should be incorporated into every exercise program. However, like the question mentions, each technique is designed to obtain different outcomes, so the stretching exercises SHOULD be linked to the outcome required e.g. neural inhibition, increasing length, etc.). However, it is often somewhat based on the practitioners theory about stretching as well e.g., some practitioners think one technique is superior to others, etc.

However, I think that a complete exercise program includes stretching exercise(s) in combination that are directly linked to the need of the patient. For example, according to Ecklund (2007), the most common stretching techniques are as follows, which explains when to use the technique as well as how, and why to use them. This is a good guide to follow and fits with my views on stretching.

1. Static Stretching: This is what most people are familiar with. It is the stretch that you "hold."

Goal: lengthen the muscle and associated connective tissue to allow greater range of motion. Necessary for maintaining proper posture and allowing full range of motion in activities of choice. Decreases recovery time.

How: with proper posture and alignment, stretch the muscle to the point of discomfort (not pain) and hold the position for at least 20-45 seconds. Keep the muscle relaxed and maintain slow relaxed breathing patterns. Perform 2-3 sets on appropriate muscles.

When: if you are only going to do it once during your routine, do it at the end of your workout. You can also stretch in between sets of an exercise to maximize your workout time. Also, it may be appropriate to stretch prior to exercise also. However, if you are focused on building strength or power, static stretching is not recommended between sets or immediately pre-activity as most research shows decrements in these variables for up to 60 minutes post stretching.

NOTE: Research in the area of flexibility training would likely agree that there is not a ...

Solution Summary

This solution debates the application of flexibility training, including positioning on clients that experience muscle pain even though they are not flexible and whether or not they should perform stretching techniques, and if so, the techniques that are better for them.

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