“What Type of Stretching Routine Should I Do?”
We get that a lot and to be completely frank and honest, I don’t know. I would start with; do something appropriate for your ability and background and make sure that it adequately prepares your body for what it is going to be doing. How about that?
Seriously though, that is my super serious response to a question that cannot be to seriously addressed without some serious consideration and background/intent first.
As far as I know there are 3 types of stretching; static, dynamic and ballistic. Here is my quick and nasty version of these;
- Static (both passive and active), think gym class when you were a kid. Sit down, bend your foot under your ass and lay back on your calf until it feels like you are going to pop your quad and hold for 15 to 30 seconds. The more it burns the better, you get bonus points for actually injuring yourself during the warm up.
- Dynamic, the thinking man’s stretch. Mimic some of the movements and actions you will be doing in your workout during this phase of the warmup, an air squat where you start by slowly dropping down only about 1/3rd of the depth and then after more reps you engage into a full depth squat. Arm swings or lunges etc. etc.
- Ballistic, the worst of both worlds. You know you shouldn’t be doing the ol’ quad till it burst stretch first thing when you roll out of bed before your run so you nervously add bouncing motion to it and couple that with a bit of intensity. You get no points for injury on this because injury is kind of assumed.
When it comes down to it ask yourself this question; “Why am I going to stretch and what do I want to achieve with it?”.
I think you can quickly deduce that you don’t really want to “stretch” so much as you want to prepare your body for some sort of activity. What type is it? Muscular endurance; like a run, swim or jumping rope (a good warmup in itself) or will you be doing some serious resistance training? Depending on your answer to what kind of activity you can now begin wrapping your brain and smart plan of attack for optimizing your system. There is no way you are going to draw on your fast twitch muscles without first getting them to fire and engaging your proprioceptive systems, if you want to do this you will need to fire them up just like any other energy system. So you build into it. Slow, exaggerated movements that lead into system and muscle specific movements and tempos.
The very best warm up is one that warms your body up to do the work you want it to do and to achieve the results you desire. It has been my experience that the biggest misconception is that your warmup and your end goal should not align in tempo, range or depth. They absolutely should. Days when our athletes are going to be doing dead lifting we completely engage the posterior chain from top to bottom before we turn them loose on the barbells. If we are breaking out the TRX straps or resistance straps you can be assured I am walking them through a full range of motion on their shoulders, hips and ankles.
Got questions on this or looking for something specific? Email us, we would love to get you ready for a new personal best.