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Stretch it out! 3 things to know before ya go

It used to be that experts recommended a good stretch before and after exercise, but now, some say we should nix it all together. Going out on the field with stiff, “cold” muscles is no good, though. What’s the real deal on stretching? Here are the three things you’ve gotta know before ya get up ‘n’ go.

 

 

Old School

Touching your toes for 15 seconds before starting a game used to be the norm, but now, scientists have discovered that moves like that, or “static stretches,” are actually bad for you. They make injuries more likely and make your muscles weaker. And just so ya know, when you’ve been stretching your arm for a while and then feel like it can stretch more, that’s your mind playing tricks on you. You’ve only gotten used to the painful, uncomfortable feeling that the stretch is giving you, and you’re not really loosening up your muscles.

 

So What Now?

Fortunately, there’s a new brand of stretching in town, and it’s called “dynamic.” These dynamic stretches are moves that introduce your muscles to the kind of actions they’ll be doing in the upcoming workout. So instead of pulling on your muscles to hold certain positions, these stretches get your blood flowin’ and your muscles loosened. They vary depending on which sport you’re prepping for, so focus on the parts of the body that you’re plannin’ on using.

 

Deets Matter

When you’re warming up, it’s not enough to just do a few dynamic stretches. Before those, you should wake your bod up with a light jog, no matter what sport you’re gettin’ into. But be careful – you shouldn’t warm up too early or with too much intensity. If you’re gonna be coolin’ it on the bench for another half hour, wait on those warm-ups for a few more minutes. Then make sure you time your 5 to 10 minutes of easy jogging so that you can do it and a few dynamic stretches right before ya hit the field.

 

So next time you’re gearing up for a workout, give your muscles the right kinda warning, gals. Skip the static, and go for dynamic!
 
 

BY CARRIE RUPPERT ON 7/24/2012 12:24:00 PM

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