Strengthening With Stretching

Over the last few years, there’s been a lot of debate about how to stretch and when. Do you go with old school against the joint effort or more of a dynamic stretching technique where you gradually expand your arm and leg range of motion along with the velocity of movement? Do you stretch out as a warm up, a cool down or both?

Some recent science on the debate can be found in the March edition of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Scientists recruited 13 untrained adults and had them stretch out their right calf muscle 4 times for 30 seconds with a 30-second rest period between stretches. This went on 3 days a week for 10 weeks. Compared to a group of 12 untrained subjects who didn’t do anything different, the stretchers realized a 29% increase in right leg calf muscle strength as well as an 11% increase in left leg calf muscle strength. Range of motion in the stretched calf increased 8%.

True Strength Moment: While stretching might not be the most efficient way to develop muscle strength, this research shows that stretching probably doesn’t decrease your strength. And there’s nothing wrong with having greater flexibility and range of motion. So don’t be afraid to stretch out for a few minutes before and/or after a demanding workout.

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