4

votes

How important is it to stretch?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created September 13, 2012 at 12:19 PM

Not a question about pre or post workout. I'm thinking more along the lines of maintaining or increasing mobility as we age. And maybe reducing pain.

Cats do it. It seems very paleo. Also, what sort of stretching would be good, especially for older folks.

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on September 17, 2012
at 01:57 PM

I think yoga can have great mental benefits, but calling it exercise is a gross mischaraterization and in many cases of a distortion of its intended purposes, e.g. bikram yoga. I do think yoga has helped my flexability and balance.

Dc6407193ba441d1438f6f0c06af872b

(4400)

on September 14, 2012
at 11:10 PM

Okay, am I lazy, am I misinformed? I doubt that. But it's true I've never persued it effectively!! When I was younger I got Anderson's book and studied it like the bible. I stretched for a year, and hour a day for a year wasted. N=1, maybe it works for other people, but it did NOTHING for me. I was optimistic, motivated, and now I'm desparate to improve my mobility somehow. Are these references somehow different? PS. I did Bikram yoga for a year too. Really fun and challenging. Did NOTHING for my flexibilty.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on September 13, 2012
at 10:42 PM

In case it wasn't clear: lengthening muscles is a myth, marketing speak to sell yoga to the clueless. Just like "toning" is to sell expensive PT hours using expensive machines, when free weights would be safer and more efficient.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on September 13, 2012
at 10:38 PM

Lengthen muscles? What's the next topic? Toning? Bosu balls? Those vibrating platforms. Bitch please.

193b7fb0fec8913d5ebb3b99a04d21c6

(2918)

on September 13, 2012
at 08:43 PM

Same problem. Whenever I feel myself saying "this is really easy!" it probably means I'm doing it wrong.

193b7fb0fec8913d5ebb3b99a04d21c6

(2918)

on September 13, 2012
at 08:41 PM

Wisper, I'm inclined to agree, but I think it's personal preference. I hate yoga because it's "too soothing" but I'm a dancer/cardio person (yes, I know, people are going to judge me for cardio, whatever) so whenever I do something like yoga I keep thinking "I should do a load of laundry". Which probably means yoga is perfect for me.

06ca9c524c28bc3fba95d4d90f8f43c6

on September 13, 2012
at 08:00 PM

Thanks, there is some good stuff in there. Incidentally some of it NSFW for any others checking it out.

7fb4e9fb1162999cdd5099fee49dd0a7

on September 13, 2012
at 06:58 PM

LMaO @ Wisper - You must be doing some pussy-ass yoga then. Yoga can be as hard or as easy as you need it to be, and if you pursued yoga in hopes it could stand-in for weight training, then surely the absence of umm... weights should have clued you into the reality. In terms of becoming more flexible, and in-turn lengthening & strengthening your muscles, yoga is a great way of achieving that. I don't do yoga due to the fact that I'm not a fan of mantras, and I like to stretch at my own intensity & pace - but regardless, an hour or so of Bikram yoga is a great challenge.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on September 13, 2012
at 06:38 PM

Isn't all exercise "wasting energy"? I'd like to waste about 175,000 calories of energy...

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on September 13, 2012
at 04:59 PM

I like the idea of flow work. And really part of what I find helps the most is that "4-5 times a day" thing. Makes a lot of sense. Really need to be mobile more frequently with our lifestyles.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on September 13, 2012
at 04:56 PM

There are definite reasons to include static stretches. Structural programs to address imbalances brought on by daily life are of need. Heck I love yoga. I love getting adjusted also. Don't see animals doing that either I suppose :). I just tend to lean more towards the Sun Salutation (sorry dunno any other names for pose series) type of continuous movement with breath followed by meditation at the end

0e5045fb58c84420a8eb7ee8d41dfc12

(258)

on September 13, 2012
at 04:42 PM

Wisper - I practice yoga and free weights for completely different reasons. No one here is saying you have to choose. I have to assume you've never tried yoga if you think "it's only marginally better than sitting on your butt", so I will relay that I would have lost quite a bit of mobility by now (and I'm only 32) if I had not started practicing yoga.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on September 13, 2012
at 04:12 PM

The guy has a long list of legendary quotes like that, too bad they're incidentally in Finnish. Here's some (search for "seppo" on page) http://forum.ebaumsworld.com/archive/index.php/t-204065.html

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on September 13, 2012
at 04:09 PM

I don't practice it because I couldn't look at myself in the mirror if I did. It's only marginally better than sitting on your butt, and free weights training will have a MUCH bigger impact on your health than ANY type of yoga in a much shorter time, and MUCH safer.

F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986

(11698)

on September 13, 2012
at 03:17 PM

Wisper, do you practice it? Why the hate?

06ca9c524c28bc3fba95d4d90f8f43c6

on September 13, 2012
at 02:56 PM

+1 I love these quotes!!!!!

0e5045fb58c84420a8eb7ee8d41dfc12

(258)

on September 13, 2012
at 01:57 PM

Learning to properly do sun salutations will effectively impact your entire body. Doing 2 to 3 a day (slowly, holding each position for 3 full breaths) would have a great positive impact on your mobility. http://www.ehow.com/video_2351142_beginner-sun-salutation-yoga.html

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on September 13, 2012
at 01:56 PM

Yoga mentioned, automatic -1 for referencing the most useless exercise there is.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on September 13, 2012
at 01:46 PM

Just to add, I find that dynamic stretching in the morning (whether I exercise or not that day) did wonders for my lower back problems and eliminated most of the stress injuries I'd get from training.

0e5045fb58c84420a8eb7ee8d41dfc12

(258)

on September 13, 2012
at 01:10 PM

Very good point - I often look to other mammals to get a perspective on what is natural. However, being a yoga teacher, I have given this much thought and, unlike other animals, we sit at desks or in cars for much of our day, and therefore probably need more intense stretching than they might. Purely my anecdotal observations...

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 13, 2012
at 01:06 PM

Exactly- pre workout do dynamic stretching and post workout or other times to static stretches. Spine flexibility is beneficial to preventing disc degeneration that comes with aging, so bridges and variations of it shouldn't be neglected.

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13 Answers

best answer

4
1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on September 13, 2012
at 12:25 PM

People have been stretching for thousands and thousands of years. Its definitely a good idea, and having flexibility helps you to maintain your mobility. Being able to get in good position is important.

Slow static stretching is good. Get into position where you feel the stretch but are not in pain and hold it for 30s. You can go throughout a whole body circuit and maybe do it again if you want.

Pre-exercise the best movement prep is to do dynamics. Post exercise is when you want to stretch.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on September 13, 2012
at 01:46 PM

Just to add, I find that dynamic stretching in the morning (whether I exercise or not that day) did wonders for my lower back problems and eliminated most of the stress injuries I'd get from training.

0e5045fb58c84420a8eb7ee8d41dfc12

(258)

on September 13, 2012
at 01:57 PM

Learning to properly do sun salutations will effectively impact your entire body. Doing 2 to 3 a day (slowly, holding each position for 3 full breaths) would have a great positive impact on your mobility. http://www.ehow.com/video_2351142_beginner-sun-salutation-yoga.html

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 13, 2012
at 01:06 PM

Exactly- pre workout do dynamic stretching and post workout or other times to static stretches. Spine flexibility is beneficial to preventing disc degeneration that comes with aging, so bridges and variations of it shouldn't be neglected.

5
F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986

(11698)

on September 13, 2012
at 01:10 PM

Yes, we need to stretch to stay mobile. Do YOGA!

7fb4e9fb1162999cdd5099fee49dd0a7

on September 13, 2012
at 06:58 PM

LMaO @ Wisper - You must be doing some pussy-ass yoga then. Yoga can be as hard or as easy as you need it to be, and if you pursued yoga in hopes it could stand-in for weight training, then surely the absence of umm... weights should have clued you into the reality. In terms of becoming more flexible, and in-turn lengthening & strengthening your muscles, yoga is a great way of achieving that. I don't do yoga due to the fact that I'm not a fan of mantras, and I like to stretch at my own intensity & pace - but regardless, an hour or so of Bikram yoga is a great challenge.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on September 13, 2012
at 01:56 PM

Yoga mentioned, automatic -1 for referencing the most useless exercise there is.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on September 13, 2012
at 04:09 PM

I don't practice it because I couldn't look at myself in the mirror if I did. It's only marginally better than sitting on your butt, and free weights training will have a MUCH bigger impact on your health than ANY type of yoga in a much shorter time, and MUCH safer.

193b7fb0fec8913d5ebb3b99a04d21c6

(2918)

on September 13, 2012
at 08:41 PM

Wisper, I'm inclined to agree, but I think it's personal preference. I hate yoga because it's "too soothing" but I'm a dancer/cardio person (yes, I know, people are going to judge me for cardio, whatever) so whenever I do something like yoga I keep thinking "I should do a load of laundry". Which probably means yoga is perfect for me.

F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986

(11698)

on September 13, 2012
at 03:17 PM

Wisper, do you practice it? Why the hate?

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on September 13, 2012
at 10:38 PM

Lengthen muscles? What's the next topic? Toning? Bosu balls? Those vibrating platforms. Bitch please.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on September 13, 2012
at 10:42 PM

In case it wasn't clear: lengthening muscles is a myth, marketing speak to sell yoga to the clueless. Just like "toning" is to sell expensive PT hours using expensive machines, when free weights would be safer and more efficient.

0e5045fb58c84420a8eb7ee8d41dfc12

(258)

on September 13, 2012
at 04:42 PM

Wisper - I practice yoga and free weights for completely different reasons. No one here is saying you have to choose. I have to assume you've never tried yoga if you think "it's only marginally better than sitting on your butt", so I will relay that I would have lost quite a bit of mobility by now (and I'm only 32) if I had not started practicing yoga.

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on September 17, 2012
at 01:57 PM

I think yoga can have great mental benefits, but calling it exercise is a gross mischaraterization and in many cases of a distortion of its intended purposes, e.g. bikram yoga. I do think yoga has helped my flexability and balance.

4
7fb4e9fb1162999cdd5099fee49dd0a7

on September 13, 2012
at 07:33 PM

Anyone saying that stretching is useless, is either lazy, misinformed, has never pursued it effectively - or all 3.

Flexibility is one of the best way to get stronger in weight training. A full-range of motion, and lengthier muscles allow you to maintain more weight at different degrees of a lift. This in turn means stronger supporting muscles e.g. stronger rotator cuffs when bench pressing. To this extent you'd increase your strength chain overall, rather than a disproportionate weighting over your arms & pecs.

All the best strength training resources recognise the benefits of both dynamic & static stretches: Mark Rippetoe, Charles Pollequin etc.

Some of the best resources I've read on stretching are:

  • Thomas Kurz's Stretching Scientifically: A Guide to Flexibility Training (and though the video is so retro, it's a serious wealth of knowledge if you can stomach it & decipher the bad english)
  • Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength (amazing resource, very dense, but worth the investment in every way)
  • and the infamous: www.mobilitywod.com

Hope some of that is helpful to you. Enjoy the stretching!

Dc6407193ba441d1438f6f0c06af872b

(4400)

on September 14, 2012
at 11:10 PM

Okay, am I lazy, am I misinformed? I doubt that. But it's true I've never persued it effectively!! When I was younger I got Anderson's book and studied it like the bible. I stretched for a year, and hour a day for a year wasted. N=1, maybe it works for other people, but it did NOTHING for me. I was optimistic, motivated, and now I'm desparate to improve my mobility somehow. Are these references somehow different? PS. I did Bikram yoga for a year too. Really fun and challenging. Did NOTHING for my flexibilty.

4
0e5045fb58c84420a8eb7ee8d41dfc12

(258)

on September 13, 2012
at 01:43 PM

I teach yoga (part-time) and so think a lot about the paleo perspective on maintaining mobility, which I think makes a very large impact on our quality of life as we age. As hunter / gatherers, we would have been stretching all day long, squatting, reaching, dragging, etc. But in most of our modern lives, we spend an unnatural amount of time sitting at the computer or in a car.

Here???s what I do:

I stretch in bed when I wake up, usually gentle twists and whatever else my body is calling for (JayJay made a great point that you often see dogs and cats stretching when they first wake up, so probably a good sign that it???s something we mammals do naturally.) http://www.yogajournal.com/basics/1382

I stretch my upper body probably 4 or 5 times a day when I am working, since I???m at a computer. I???ve read (and witnessed) that sitting at a desk or driving to the extent that most modern adults do causes our upper back muscles to lengthen and front chest muscles to shorten, hunching us over.

I take and teach yoga classes. My style is vinyasa flow, so less static holding and more gentle movement between stretches.

I move whenever possible, especially in different directions. I take walking breaks during my work day. I park far away from stores so I have to walk the farthest to get in. I have living room dance parties with my kids. I squat instead of sitting whenever possible. I never miss the opportunity to do a handstand or cartwheel. Any opportunity I get, I try to gently use my body, because, use it or lose it, right?

Hope my observations help a little!

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on September 13, 2012
at 04:59 PM

I like the idea of flow work. And really part of what I find helps the most is that "4-5 times a day" thing. Makes a lot of sense. Really need to be mobile more frequently with our lifestyles.

2
9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on September 13, 2012
at 01:54 PM

Finnish javelin Olympiad and world champ Seppo R??ty has several famous quotes about the subject:

  • When asked when it is appropriate to stretch, he said "on the medal podium"
  • Also, "your legs will stretch just fine when you load 300kg on the barbell and squat "
  • It was 1992 Olympics and he was asked when he stretched. He said "in 1984"

(All paraphrased, years probably wrong)

06ca9c524c28bc3fba95d4d90f8f43c6

on September 13, 2012
at 02:56 PM

+1 I love these quotes!!!!!

06ca9c524c28bc3fba95d4d90f8f43c6

on September 13, 2012
at 08:00 PM

Thanks, there is some good stuff in there. Incidentally some of it NSFW for any others checking it out.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on September 13, 2012
at 04:12 PM

The guy has a long list of legendary quotes like that, too bad they're incidentally in Finnish. Here's some (search for "seppo" on page) http://forum.ebaumsworld.com/archive/index.php/t-204065.html

1
51c66d8a6f3005628535a50a950b1c61

(1003)

on September 13, 2012
at 09:18 PM

I highly recommend qi gong. There's something about the combination of stretching in motion, along with the meditative aspect that are golden to me now that I'm in my mid 40s. I personally find it advantageous to do in small breaks throughout the workday (I have a desk job, but work at home so I can have that luxury), as well as before bed (seems to really make for better sleep).

For someone brand new to qi gong, it can be overwhelming to research. I would suggest anything by Lee Holden (http://www.exercisetoheal.com/) as a good starting point. His stuff is very accessible and enjoyable. Have fun!!

1
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on September 13, 2012
at 12:31 PM

I think mobility work is VERY paleo (especially for the spine) and you should practice full range of motion movement with VERY BRIEF (1-2 second) end range holds (much like a cat). Static stretching on the other hand where you hold a stretch for a long time could be more detrimental than not. I don't see any animals "holding" a stretch position, and studies seem to indicate that flexibility gained due to this is only transient.

For older folks I would recommend a full spine mobility work (and extremities) of 5-10 minutes daily. Slow purposeful movement TO end range and back 3 times or so through each movement.

0e5045fb58c84420a8eb7ee8d41dfc12

(258)

on September 13, 2012
at 01:10 PM

Very good point - I often look to other mammals to get a perspective on what is natural. However, being a yoga teacher, I have given this much thought and, unlike other animals, we sit at desks or in cars for much of our day, and therefore probably need more intense stretching than they might. Purely my anecdotal observations...

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on September 13, 2012
at 04:56 PM

There are definite reasons to include static stretches. Structural programs to address imbalances brought on by daily life are of need. Heck I love yoga. I love getting adjusted also. Don't see animals doing that either I suppose :). I just tend to lean more towards the Sun Salutation (sorry dunno any other names for pose series) type of continuous movement with breath followed by meditation at the end

0
3151fbbd2846551fd27b33f6cba5e546

on September 17, 2012
at 06:31 AM

Once I replaced static stretching with z-health, my muscles and joints felt much better. Basically, move each one of your major joints through its range of motion before a workout: feet, ankles, knees, hip, shoulders, neck, wrists, fingers.

The z-health shoulder routine alone fixed my dodgy right shoulder, after trying Turkish Get-ups and external rotations for over a year.

I think mobility work, coupled with heavy compound weights, will keep you limber.

0
98266ae0c87836d4bb714b6d31cacbf9

on September 13, 2012
at 07:59 PM

0
6473dcb4b0e9b839615d650c168d2747

(638)

on September 13, 2012
at 12:46 PM

I like throwing in some low level workouts like The Bar Method a couple times a week so I'm not just weight/circuit training. They do loads of great easy stretching! After my heavy training I also like to do the stretching part of the NYC Ballet workout :)

0
A3a4696c919e916ec971691559e9c942

(2043)

on September 13, 2012
at 12:45 PM

I usually do not stretch before a workout because stretching a cold muscle has always seemed odd to me but I do stretch and foam roll after workouts and that seems to make a huge difference in how I feel and recover day to day.

0
293ba4c95d190bc616b27d85b10d705a

(661)

on September 13, 2012
at 12:44 PM

stretching is good if you know how to do it correctly..to the point of a little tension

i have hypermobility for example, so its easy for me to get carried away and do it wrong

193b7fb0fec8913d5ebb3b99a04d21c6

(2918)

on September 13, 2012
at 08:43 PM

Same problem. Whenever I feel myself saying "this is really easy!" it probably means I'm doing it wrong.

-1
01adafcb4dd4147c6af543f61eee60a8

on September 13, 2012
at 02:18 PM

Useless imo. Waste of energy.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on September 13, 2012
at 06:38 PM

Isn't all exercise "wasting energy"? I'd like to waste about 175,000 calories of energy...

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