View Full Version : Stretching Research

Leonard Jansen
November 7th, 2008, 09:54 AM
Interesting article at:



Redbird Alum
November 7th, 2008, 03:36 PM
Very thought provoking piece. I'll have to try the alternatives and see what happens in my own work-outs.

November 7th, 2008, 03:44 PM
When I used to run, I would stretch myself out in a similar way. I didn't do the ones they listed, but all my stretches involved motion. I don't know why I dropped that when I started swimming. I'm going to try going back to that next time I work out. Thanks for the article.

November 7th, 2008, 09:06 PM
Read the same kind of stuff about a year ago in Megan Jendrick's book. Haven't stretched since then before practices or meets and have felt great... never a problem. Cheers!

Typhoons Coach
November 8th, 2008, 08:07 PM
I have to say that I absolutely agree with the article. A swimmer in my family (now a coach) used to say the exact same thing. As a young coach I didn't listen, but I have been taking her advice for quite some time now! Thanks for posting the news article!

November 9th, 2008, 07:05 PM
Fair enough. Does that mean that static stretching is altogether bad, or just that you shouldn't do it before working out? Once you have warmed up or completed your workout, would it be appropriate to do static stretches then? I have some old (10+ years) references that say it's best to do stretches after warming up. Of course that could be contradicted by newer research.

November 9th, 2008, 07:32 PM
In light of this article, I think static stretches are probably best done after working out or separately. You still need flexibility, so static stretches still need to be done at some point.

Redbird Alum
November 10th, 2008, 09:39 AM
After a limited sample (two workouts) of active vs static stretching prior to diving in, I would have to agree with this article's premise. I did feel quite a bit looser earlier in my workout, and not as tired until much later.

I am an older swimmer (51) who only gets into the water about three times a week. So perhaps that has something to do with it.

I would be interested to hear if others have put this process to the test and what their experiences are.

Typhoons Coach
November 10th, 2008, 01:20 PM
In light of this article, I think static stretches are probably best done after working out or separately. You still need flexibility, so static stretches still need to be done at some point.

I agree that the static stretches can be done separately. I have always been told (not that I agree or disagree at this point) that stretching after a full workout is "bad for you". Again, I don't know if this is true or not, but I figured that I would mention it to stir up some more debate!

Chris Stevenson
November 10th, 2008, 05:12 PM
This is just my experience, I'm not trying to convert anyone...

I have always been a believer in stretching. I think it keeps me loose and efficient when I swim. (There is probably a psychological aspect as well.)

Furthermore, I stretch before working out and somehow, despite the findings cited in the NYT article, I don't think I lose 30% of my muscle strength (something that I imagine would be pretty noticeable).

But I don't think I really do "static" stretching in the way implied in the artlcle, holding one position for 30 seconds. It is more like 5 seconds. There is a lot of movement when I stretch, though not as much as most of the exercises cited in the article.

I have no doubt that the stretching warms me up, "activates" my muscles. How do I know? Simply from a long time of comparing warmups with and without. And even when I don't stretch on the pool deck before warming up, I do so WHILE I warm up (on the walls, during the stroke itself, etc).

I also seem to need less warmup than many of my workout buddies. Of course, that may be due to years of arriving late to practice, halfway thru warmup, then chatting (maybe while stretching) for another 5-10 min before finally getting in.

Again, YMMV.

November 10th, 2008, 07:49 PM
I tried doing basically what I used to do before running, and I definitely could feel a difference (in a good way). It sounds to me like you basically do what the article suggests, just without the weird doppelganger movements.

jim thornton
November 12th, 2008, 11:50 PM
I learned about so-called dynamic stretching a couple years ago. The physical therapist who explained his approach said it's kind of like Tai Chi, those slow moving exercises you see a bunch of people doing in city parks in China. He said you ideally want to get your body to move through the range of motions it will be using in the specific sport you'll be performing, but to start these off very slowly.

When I play tennis now, I get to the court early and do slow motion backhands, forehands, and serves. It seems to help a bit.

But where I really feel it works, despite occasional ridicule by my raw-raw teammates, is at the pool. I will swim in slow motion for a 600 yards or so, trying to keep my form as decent as it can be when moving like refrigerated syrup. I think of it as tai chi swimming. I suspect the lifeguards think of it as sleep swimming.

I'm 56, and there definitely might be some age factors creeping in here. But this approach seems to slowly open up capillaries and ease my muscles into service in a gradual way. After the first 600, which I swim without flip turns, I finish off the 1000 "pre-warmup" going a bit faster and increasing the velocity gradually of my turns. If I do this, the rest of practice always goes much, much easier than when I get to the pool "late" and have to begin with the "official" warm up (often something like 10 x 100 on 1:25) with the rest of my lanemates.

Anyhow, I say if you haven't tried it yet, give tai chi swimming a chance.

November 12th, 2008, 11:58 PM
I don't like hopping in the pool too early because it's freezing in there and we all have to stand and listen to all the announcements and the daily ridicule at the hands of our disappointed coaches; however, I notice when I actually get in and slowly stretch out before our warm ups, I feel looser and better. I should really start doing that more often.