To Stretch or Not to Stretch?
We asked one of Westchester’s top trainers whether all that stretching is worth the trouble
Rumor has it she's got a lot of pull.
There was once a simpler time when dutiful stretching preceded any lengthy workout. Those days are long gone, as countless fitness professionals and athletes have protested the classic finger-to-toes movements of the past. Local trainer Vince Liguori, the founder of RDX Fitness, says it is first important to understand the different types of stretching before you head into a gym.
“There are two basic types: static and dynamic,” says Liguori. “Static stretching means a stretch is held in a challenging but comfortable position for a period of time, usually somewhere between 10 to 30 seconds.” Liguori adds that static is the most common form of stretching and is generally considered safe and effective for improving overall flexibility.
Dynamic, on the other hand, constitutes a much more active movement set. “Dynamic stretching is beneficial in sports, utilizing momentum from form [and strength] in an effort to propel the muscle into an extended range of motion,” he explains. No surprise then, that it's become popular among coaches, as well as with CrossFit and Boot Camp adherents. Liguori recommends that those hoping not to pull a hammy begin their exercise with a dynamic warm-up including high-steps, agility movements, or even a brief run, assuring that, "Your entire body should feel warmer and your heart rate slightly elevated before you begin stretching."
Equally as important is book-ending your workout properly. Liguori advises dynamic stretching (such as walking lunges, side lunges, "inchworms," and front-to-back leg swings) before exercise, and static moves after. Just don't exclude warm-ups if you're looking to prevent injury and support healthy joints. “Stretching without a warm-up increases your risk of sprains and strains,” cautions Liguori. “So, while overall stretching may feel great after your workouts or in a yoga class, the real benefits of stretching may be related to a more focused approach that strives to maintain appropriate range of motion around specific joints.”