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A.K.
April 5th, 2011, 08:02 PM
Re: Poll - Multiple answers can be made in the poll - select all that apply.

I have heard people say it's better to stretch before workout and others say it is better to stretch during/after workouts.

I have also heard people say stretching before is a good way to hurt yourself.

I have always believed stretching before workout is better and have swum better.

I wanted to get your feedback and links if any supporting your views.

Thanks

The Fortress
April 5th, 2011, 08:19 PM
I almost always stretch after.

However, if I have a dryland + swim day and I stretch right after drylands, I feel better in the water afterward.

I'm not sure you're going to hurt yourself stretching before if you are already flexible and stretch regularly. If not, I can see the possibility of something going awry. If I stretch before or in an isolated stretching session, I usually do some dynamic stretching before the static stretching.

swimshark
April 5th, 2011, 08:53 PM
My team stretches before every workout. We have a set stretch sequence and we are taught how not to injure ourselves. I find I feel a lot better in the water if I have stretched.

Occasionally, we will get out early and stretch but I find I don't get anything from it.

philoswimmer
April 5th, 2011, 08:58 PM
I think it's good to stretch before, during, and after.

ElaineK
April 5th, 2011, 09:06 PM
I think it's good to stretch before, during, and after.

Although I voted "during", I'm with you Philo. I really like the stretches demonstrated in the January-February 2010 issue of Swimmer Magazine; I do them daily. Typically, I begin every warm-up with 2-4x100 freestyle and stretch in between them, before moving on with the rest of my warm-up. Then, I do specific stretches for breaststroke, before I finish my warm-up with breaststroke drills. After my swim, I always do more stretching, before I hit the showers.

jaadams1
April 5th, 2011, 09:09 PM
I don't stretch before the swim workouts...maybe just a little shaking out the arms and legs. After about 200-500 Yards or swimming, I will take a little time to stretch out the arms, twist the back -crrrack- a few times, and shoulders and neck. Then I get back at it again before the others bombard my lane and make it impossible for me to do any set worth a darn to me. :)

scyfreestyler
April 5th, 2011, 09:21 PM
I don't do any stretching on cold muscles anymore. I've had more than one bad experience and have just abandoned the practice completely now. Additionally, I've never really felt the need to stretch before or after swimming. A good warmup before doing anything strenuous has worked pretty well for me.

I do find that cycling will leave me with tight hamstrings from time to time and I will stretch those, but not cold.

Rich Abrahams
April 5th, 2011, 09:27 PM
Ballistic stretching before exercise, static stretching post exercise.

scyfreestyler
April 5th, 2011, 09:37 PM
Ballistic stretching before exercise, static stretching post exercise.


Really? The ballistic part sounds like an injury waiting to happen.

A.K.
April 5th, 2011, 09:46 PM
Some great input- I appreciate it. Keep them coming.

I think i will continue to do stretching before and during and add after workout.

I had to google ballistic stretching and found this:
===========================
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballistic_stretching

Ballistic stretching is a form of passive stretching or dynamic stretching in a bouncing motion. Ballistic stretches force the limb into an extended range of motion when the muscle has not relaxed enough to enter it. It involves fast "bouncing" movements where a double bounce is performed at the end range of movement. Ballistic stretching should only be used by athletes who know their own limitations and with supervision by their trainer.

Ballistic stretching has been found to be hazardous towards the body. It can injure vital muscles and nerves with the sharp jerking movements. It is even possible for tissue to be ripped off the bone.
================================================

I realize anything done the wrong way can hurt you, and know Rich has great knowledge and experience in swimming so I am taking the Wikipedia reference with a grain of salt.

The Fortress
April 5th, 2011, 09:49 PM
Some great input- I appreciate it. Keep them coming.

I think i will continue to do stretching before and during and add after workout.

I had to google ballistic stretching and found this:
===========================
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballistic_stretching

Ballistic stretching is a form of passive stretching or dynamic stretching in a bouncing motion. Ballistic stretches force the limb into an extended range of motion when the muscle has not relaxed enough to enter it. It involves fast "bouncing" movements where a double bounce is performed at the end range of movement. Ballistic stretching should only be used by athletes who know their own limitations and with supervision by their trainer.

Ballistic stretching has been found to be hazardous towards the body. It can injure vital muscles and nerves with the sharp jerking movements. It is even possible for tissue to be ripped off the bone.
================================================

I realize anything done the wrong way can hurt you, so I am taking the Wikipedia reference with a grain of salt.

Dynamic stretching is safer than ballistic stretching: http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/dynamicstretching.html; http://www.elitesoccerconditioning.com/Stretching-Flexibility/DynamicStretchingvsStaticStretching.htm (with cites to studies). The point is that it's advisable to be warmed up somewhat before you do static stretching.

Rich Abrahams
April 5th, 2011, 10:09 PM
Fort,
You're right. I was really thinking of dynamic stretching (e.g. gentle arm swings) rather than ballistic. Before dryland I do an easy 1,000 meter row on the rowing machine, 400-500 jump rope reps and then some dynamic stretches, sometimes with a light medicine ball. Before swimming I don't do much, just swim very slowly for 700-1,000 meters (half my total workout yardage on most days).
Rich

Karl_S
April 5th, 2011, 10:29 PM
I'm not a big fan of stretching, before, during or after a workout, but I find a good warmup to the very helpful. When I swim, I start with a long warmup. When I lift, I start with sets of very light weights, (or only body weight for exercises such as squats) and do lots of reps, like 100. I believe this helps prevent injuries. I find stretching helpful if I am stiff from sitting in too many long meetings.

orca1946
April 6th, 2011, 12:42 AM
It's not in the poll, but I would go for before & during.

knelson
April 6th, 2011, 12:58 AM
Is there really any evidence that stretching of an kind is really beneficial? It seems like everything I read says it's worthless. So my vote is for no stretching unless someone can convince me otherwise. Even then I probably won't stretch. :cane:

philoswimmer
April 6th, 2011, 01:03 AM
Hell, my dogs stretch every time they get up. If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me.

More seriously, I feel like I move better when I stretch. My warm up feels better if I've stretched a bit beforehand, and the rest of the workout feels better if I stretch after the warmup (and whenever else I can sneak in a quick stretch). As for stretching afterwards, it's a great way to cool down and work on flexibility, though I can't say I always do it.

A.K.
April 6th, 2011, 08:33 AM
@ Orca1946 Thanks- I will mention Multiple answers can be made in the poll - select all that apply. I wasn't clear on that originallyand will add verbiage.


@Philoswimmer Great point, my greyhounds stretch each time they get off the coach before we let them run outside, and they are quick.


I have found my stroke is choppy and turns are in bad form if I don't stretch before swimming. I will still do a warm-up in the pool.
( Best analogy I can think of is I feel like Frankenstein fighting through the water without stretching)

I will do a slow stretch with continuous pressure for at least 30 seconds.
I usually will try to hit the calf, thigh, forearm, lats, stomach and back.

pmccoy
April 6th, 2011, 09:01 AM
@Philoswimmer Great point, my greyhounds stretch each time they get off the coach before we let them run outside, and they are quick.
My greyhound stretches a lot also but there's a reason he is laying around on my couch instead of racing at a track.

As for stretching... I don't do any and neither does anyone on my team. I'll stretch my arms between sets if they feel a little tight. I'm definitely not qualified to call it a "good" or "bad" practice though.

Rykno
April 6th, 2011, 10:14 AM
since "Stretching, what's that?" was not an option I went with stretching during.

I've done the stretching before, but get tight as soon as I jump in, and then have to stretch out throughout the warm up and after every series.

ryan

awoods
April 6th, 2011, 10:27 AM
I do a light stretch and then sit in the hot tub before swimming. Going from 103 deg. water to the 80+ water is a good motivation to start swimming instead of hanging around the wall talking.

The Fortress
April 6th, 2011, 10:54 AM
Is there really any evidence that stretching of an kind is really beneficial? It seems like everything I read says it's worthless. So my vote is for no stretching unless someone can convince me otherwise. Even then I probably won't stretch. :cane:

Jim Thornton and I recently had this conversation, with him opining that stretching is useless.

Here's what the Mayo Clinic says: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stretching/HQ01447

And yoga, which includes stretching, is likewise beneficial: http://www.livestrong.com/article/331302-real-benefits-of-yoga/

It's hard for me to see how having tight muscles is a good situation. A lot of people with lower back pain often just have tight muscles. Swimming is a sport where flexibility is paramount. Try doing SDKs with a tight back and hips ... Try doing fly or rotating properly on backstroke with a tight back, hips, and core ... Try kicking fast without flexible ankles ... (As for shoulders, I do admit that I rarely stretch them except for whatever residual stretching is in a yoga pose, because of my concern about further stretching the tendons.)

FWIW, my own stretching routine consists of brikram yoga (because of its focus on spinal strengthening, spinal-back-leg flexibility and balance) and these stretches: http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=14191

Jazz Hands
April 6th, 2011, 11:25 AM
Static stretching impairs strength and power. See this and about a billion other related studies: http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=14676437

The Fortress
April 6th, 2011, 11:29 AM
Static stretching impairs strength and power. See this and about a billion other related studies: http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=14676437

I've read that as well. But isn't that effect limited to 60 minutes or so after doing it? So, for example, you shouldn't do it prior to drylands or a swim race?

Jazz Hands
April 6th, 2011, 11:32 AM
I've read that as well. But isn't that effect limited to 60 minutes or so after doing it? So, for example, you shouldn't do it prior to drylands or a swim race?

Yeah, I think that's the deal. It would be pretty difficult to test the drop off of the effect in a study, since practicing the strength skill with multiple tests would be a major confound.

aquageek
April 6th, 2011, 12:07 PM
I have yet to see any proof that stretching is of any value whatsoever. People who tell me I need to stretch tell me this because they passed a one hour personal trainer test. When I press them they say, "because you have to stretch."

I do exclude yoga from my belief as yoga, to me, is a sport unto itself with goals and advancement so obviously being flexible assists you as you progress. I also think yoga is a cult, perpetuated by flaxative eating sweaty crystal deodorant wearing [optional] hippies in hemp costumes, but that's a side point.

I think until there is definitive proof on stretching I plan to remain as inflexible as humanly possible.

knelson
April 6th, 2011, 12:07 PM
Maybe something like yoga or pilates where the stretching is the exercise is a different scenario. It seems to me that you are stretching while you swim and as long as you don't just dive in and start swimming all out you'll be fine. After reading Geek's post above I'm inclined to agree: most people stretch because they think they are supposed to stretch.

Then again my flexibility is terrible and maybe never stretching has something to do with it.

philoswimmer
April 6th, 2011, 12:31 PM
I have yet to see any proof that stretching is of any value whatsoever. People who tell me I need to stretch tell me this because they passed a one hour personal trainer test. When I press them they say, "because you have to stretch."

My reasons for stretching are similar to A.K.'s: I "feel like Frankenstein fighting through the water without stretching." My muscles are tight when I start out and swimming alone isn't enough to loosen them. I feel better when I stretch. Maybe once you start stretching, you become addicted to it? Maybe some physiologies require stretching and others don't? I don't know. I am always baffled by those who don't feel the need to stretch; I feel like I *have* to stretch.

aquageek
April 6th, 2011, 12:33 PM
Maybe some physiologies require stretching and others don't? I don't know. I am always baffled by those who don't feel the need to stretch; I feel like I *have* to stretch.

I have wondered about this as well. I have never ever been flexible and therefore have adapted my sports to this. It is probably just what a person gets accustomed to and either way is fine.

swimmerb212
April 6th, 2011, 01:10 PM
And yoga, which includes stretching, is likewise beneficial: http://www.livestrong.com/article/331302-real-benefits-of-yoga/



I started taking a Vinyasa yoga class more regularly this fall, and did about 4-5 sun salutations after a slow swim warm-up each morning of my most recent meet. I think it helped my performance, I felt loose and calm behind the blocks. On each iteration, I felt like I was a little more open than that one before, and it got me moving in a way that's different than swimming motions.

Here's a good example: YouTube - YOGA FOR BEGINNERS -Sun Salutation

I used to stretch more after swimming, but I don't really bother anymore, and I haven't noticed a big difference.

Jazz Hands
April 6th, 2011, 01:28 PM
Maybe something like yoga or pilates where the stretching is the exercise is a different scenario. It seems to me that you are stretching while you swim and as long as you don't just dive in and start swimming all out you'll be fine. After reading Geek's post above I'm inclined to agree: most people stretch because they think they are supposed to stretch.

Then again my flexibility is terrible and maybe never stretching has something to do with it.

My flexibility is great, especially in swimmy areas like the shoulders and spine. Perhaps swimming did it!

I also improved flexibility from lifting weights, most noticeably hamstrings from deadlifts.

Thrashing Slug
April 6th, 2011, 02:36 PM
For swimming I usually just stretch "during", except for ankle stretches which I sometimes do during the day. I guess you could consider that before or after.

I never do any stretching without warming up first, unless the whole point of the session is stretching (a truly rare occurence). In that case I start out with some very light dynamic stretching to get warmed up.

I've found that stretching after a workout is absolutely essential for running. Stretching and ice baths are what keep me injury-free in that sport. If I could choose only one post-run stretch it would be the one where you touch your toes from a standing position with one ankle crossed over the other. That one is great for the IT bands. Calf stretches are important too, but there's really not much stretching can do for my calves. I need to use The Stick.

I stretch after cycling and weightlifting sessions too, but the focus is mostly on lower back and hips. Sometimes swimming makes me want to stretch those areas too, but usually only when I swim a lot of fly. In general, swimming is an activity that leaves me feeling loose, like I have already stretched.

The Fortress
April 6th, 2011, 04:45 PM
Maybe something like yoga or pilates where the stretching is the exercise is a different scenario. It seems to me that you are stretching while you swim and as long as you don't just dive in and start swimming all out you'll be fine. After reading Geek's post above I'm inclined to agree: most people stretch because they think they are supposed to stretch.

Then again my flexibility is terrible and maybe never stretching has something to do with it.

I understand this POV with the conflicting evidence. But don't most elite swimmers stretch? I seem to recall in Salo's Complete Conditioning book, that there was a section on stretching and that he also stressed the importance of balance exercises. Do you think Salo, a coach who has deviated from conventional thinking in his training methods, is having his swimmers stretch "because he's supposed to"? Not me.

And if swimming is a sport where flexibility is essential, why would one want to remain inflexible? I mean, if you're not flexible, how can you even get into a proper tight streamline position? Many masters can't. Also, we lose flexibility as we age if nothing is done. Maybe this is part of the age-related slow down? I see people hobbling stiffly all the time, and I don't want to be that person. I'd rather be nimble and flexible. I also have the sense that being flexible could prevent injury and help remove lactic acid. I certainly feel much better after today's sweaty yoga class than I did this am. Though I did not wear "hemp clothing."

But I could be full o' s.

knelson
April 6th, 2011, 04:59 PM
I think this makes sense, but if it's the case than maybe stretching should be thought of as entirely separate from swimming, not merely something that should be done before/during/after a swimming workout.

The Fortress
April 6th, 2011, 05:13 PM
I think this makes sense, but if it's the case than maybe stretching should be thought of as entirely separate from swimming, not merely something that should be done before/during/after a swimming workout.

That's how I view it. I usually stretch after drylands or do yoga as a separate workout (sometimes after a swim). Very occasionally, I will stretch at night, but I do dynamic stretching first. I never stretch before or during a swim workout.

coachkopie
April 6th, 2011, 05:20 PM
you may get more responses with straight forward options like that but the answer is far too involved for any of those to do justice to the topic.

* what is one trying to stretch - what area, what type of structure in the body?

* what is defined as "stretching" and how to know if it is positive or possibly other?

* what is the objective?

* what is the state of the body when "stretching" - healthy? tender? injured? room temp? warm?

* is the athlete extra mobile or does the athlete have limited movement?

you want a short, possibly unpopular view point - we want limber, supple, strong but not tight or tense bodies. more is not always better and often counter productive; move, wake up, use gentle resistance to wake up, stabilize and strengthen and shy away from anything that suggests stretching of the front portion of the shoulder girdle or that puts the shoulder into hyper-extension. shy away from over head triceps "stretches"

my short answer: limber, move, massage, foam roll if you like and use medium to light stretch cord resistance actions to engage and stabilize and use very minimal "stretching"

have a great, safe, fun, fit day.

aquajock
April 8th, 2011, 12:54 PM
Dynamic stretches are not ballistic stretches - they are stretches that involve movement patterns that do not take a muscle too close to its elastic limit. They prepare the muscles for activity by warming tissues and doing range of motion activities that prep the joints.

I do DS before exercise and static stretches at the end to lengthen out the tissues and release toxins that build up in the tissues. I break these stretches out into 2 parts my new DVD, Personal Best Stretch: Move Better Than Ever. I have more information on this on my web site.

androvski
April 8th, 2011, 06:39 PM
As mentioned before, dynamic stretching before and static after.

aquajock
April 8th, 2011, 07:14 PM
I'd like to see an option in the poll that it is equally important to stretch before and after a workout, but that the type of stretching done pre- and post-exercise should be different. That option gets my vote and is backed by much research.

analazy
April 10th, 2011, 02:45 AM
Warming up: the latest research into stretching

http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/warming-up-the-latest-research-into-stretching-42328
There’s increasing evidence that stretching before exercise doesn’t improve performance or reduce injury risk


There’s increasing evidence that stretching before exercise doesn’t improve performance or reduce injury risk. And the most comprehensive review of its kind concluded that flexibility training has no known health benefits(1). Gary O’Donovan presents the evidence to help you decide if stretching is a waste of time.
I recently searched an electronic database for studies about static stretching (http://www.usms.org/glossary/s/static-stretching), ballistic stretching and dynamic stretching (www.pubmed.com (http://www.pubmed.com)). In these studies, torque, 1-repetition maximum (using free weights), maximal voluntary contraction (on a machine), jump height and sprint time were the most common measures of strength and power. Unfortunately, many of the studies included a small number of participants (and had little chance of detecting differences in performance) and some used dodgy statistics(2).
Static stretching



Static stretching involves passive elongation of a muscle or group of muscles(3). I found 61 studies investigating the acute effects of static stretching on strength and power and the conclusions on performance were as follows:

One study found an improvement in performance(4);
Thirty-eight studies found reductions in performance(5-42);
Twenty-two studies found no statistically significant differences in performance between stretching and non-stretching groups(43-64).
Two 15-second stretches or three 30-second stretches were sufficient to reduce performance and more demanding protocols reduced performance for 60-120 minutes following stretching(22,31). Several studies also found that static stretching reduced the elasticity and electrical activity of muscles (see figure 1 and box 1).
It’s unclear if a second warm up can reduce the detrimental effects of static stretching on strength and power(13,65) but what’s undeniable is that the available evidence suggests that static stretching is a waste of time or, worse, is detrimental to performance!

Ballistic stretching

Ballistic stretching involves swinging, bouncing or bobbing movements and the final position is not held (3). I found six studies about the acute effects of ballistic stretching on strength and power: there were no reports of improved performance, one report of decreased performance (62) and five inconclusive reports (10, 38, 40, 56, 63). There were only 14 to 24 participants in each study and elasticity and electrical activity were not assessed. Thus, there is insufficient evidence to recommend ballistic stretching before exercise.
Dynamic stretching

Ballistic stretching and dynamic stretching are given the same definition in the latest American College of Sports Medicine manual(3); however, the prevailing definition of dynamic stretching in the UK is ‘flexibility in action’ and dynamic stretches include ankle flicks, buttock flicks, knee lifts, the ‘Russian walk’, the ‘walking lunge’ and the ‘walking hamstring’(66).
I found 10 studies about the acute effects of dynamic stretching on strength and power: six of these studies found improvements in performance(7,17,54,55,63,64), no studies found decrements in performance and three studies found no statistically significant differences in performance between stretching and non-stretching groups(45,47,49).
One study concluded that dynamic stretching was beneficial, but the authors compared changes in performance in the dynamic stretching and static stretching groups instead of the dynamic stretching and non-stretching groups(25). The available evidence suggests that dynamic stretching is beneficial; however, warming up probably improves performance and it is impossible to distinguish the effects of warming up and stretching in many dynamic stretches.

Stretching and endurance performance

The effects of stretching before exercise and flexibility training on endurance performance are not well documented. Static stretching did not significantly reduce endurance performance in a study of 11 physically active students(67), but it did reduce running economy and endurance performance in a study of 10 trained distance runners(68). US scientists found that a stretching programme did not reduce running economy, but the intervention only lasted 10 weeks(69). Cross-sectional studies can reflect years of exposure to stretching and a study of 34 international-standard distance runners found that the least flexible runners were also the most economical(70).
Stretching after exercise

Although no longer recommended before exercise, static stretching is still recommended during the cool-down(3). The advantages of stretching after exercise might include an increase in range of movement and a decrease in the risk of lower limb injury in those with tight muscles(78,84). The disadvantages of stretching after exercise might include a decrease in running economy(70) and an increase in the risk of lower limb injury in those with loose muscles(78).
Some people say that stretching increases their sense of wellbeing and some also stretch to reduce muscle soreness(82), but there is little evidence that stretching reduces soreness in the days after novel or unusually demanding exercise(85,86). Given limited and conflicting evidence, athletes and coaches should consider if any advantages are likely to be greater than any disadvantages before stretching after exercise.

Summary and conclusions

Large, robust RCTs help ensure that the healthcare budget is spent on interventions that actually work. Anecdotal evidence and testimonials are worthless. The existing evidence suggests that flexibility training has no known health benefits(1); however, ongoing trials may improve our understanding of the effects of stretching and yoga on back pain(87,88). In the meantime, the practical implications box, right, provides some recommendations on stretching for athletes seeking maximum performance.
Dr Gary O’Donovan is a lecturer in sport and exercise medicine at University of Exeter

aquajock
April 10th, 2011, 03:00 PM
I agree with all of the above, with the exception that stretching has no known health benefits. The positive impact of stretching on my clients and myself is very apparent. As a longtime (22 years) certified fitness professional, I work predominantly with adults over 55 years of age.

People who avoid stretching and range-of-motion activities that move joints a variety of different ways often lose the mobility required to do ADL (activities of daily living). This isn't always the case because some individuals just naturally are more flexible and some people (swimmers for example) engage in exercise which involves complex joint movements. I happen to have muscles and connective tissue that tends toward the tightness of piano wire so I have always had to work hard to keep tissues lengthened with stretching, rolling, and massage.

Muscles and joints can become so thickened and restricted that eventually, people are unable to reach dishes on high cupboard shelves, reach behind them to fasten a clasp or bend down to pick up an object or even get in and out of a car. For this reason, I do flexibility work with all of my clients.

Many people (myself included) also have flexibility imbalances (on side tighter than the other), which causes dysfunctional movement and often eventually injury (I happen to have a tighter piriformis and IT band on my left side). By becoming aware of problem areas and stretching the muscles that are causing the imbalance, the person may experience less pain and move with more ease.