Wednesday, July 7, 2010

About Flexibility

When I started massage school, I thought I knew quite a bit about the human body.

I have been using my body physically to make a living for most of my life and still I am realizing how little I know. It’s a humbling experience and a fun one as well.

Here’s a good example. I have heard quite a bit about flexibility and stretching since I started playing sports all those years ago. We all know that we are supposed to stretch before our physical activity. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and relax. Sometimes do it twice with the same stretch and move on to our activity.

During massage school, I learned that there was quite a bit more to stretching and flexibility other than what we were taught in gym class. Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to explain a few of them to you, and educate you on some things that you are probably new to you. The first is one most of us are the most familiar with: Static Stretching.

Static Stretching is when you gradually lengthen a muscle to an elongated position (to the point of discomfort) and hold that position for 30 seconds to two minutes. The classic example is the toe touch to stretch the hamstrings (muscles on the back of the thighs).

Here’s the interesting thing about static stretching is that there is some research that suggests that static stretching before your activity can hinder your performance. It also seems to be the least efficient way to gain flexibility. After your activity, however, static stretching is great for helping alleviate the soreness that could come later.

Next week, we’ll talk about a way to stretch that will make you stronger.

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