Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Static stretching vs Dynamic warmup

Stretching before activity has been thought to be a normal practice for decades for many reasons such as warming up the body, increasing flexibility, reducing soreness(DOMS) and preventing injury.  But should you do static stretching or a dynamic warmup before activity?

A meta-analysis in 2002 found that stretching before or after activity did not yield any practical applications for reducing muscle soreness or reducing injury(1).  Advancements a decade later in 2012 showed that pre-activity stretching can be beneficial to prevent some injuries and reduce soreness(2).  A newer trend seen across the board for all levels of competition(recreational, youth, high school, collegiate, professional) is dynamic stretching and dynamic warmups.  This may be more appropriate for prepping the body for the activity to come, as well as preserving and even increasing muscle power(3),  

I'm going to make the argument that it is better to do a dynamic warmup prior to activity.  The warmup should be catered to the movements that are about to performed and should also address key muscles hat are involved.  When warming up in this manner one may find it as a more advantageous strategy for increasing your performance.

For example, let's take a runner.  A dynamic hip warmup would be a great strategy to engage the lower body and even the core.  A lunge matrix could be the ideal warmup to do just this. It will encourage loading through the hips, being stable on one leg, engage the glutes and prep the body in all planes of motion.

Here is an example of a lunge matrix:

Another example is preparing for weight lifting such as squatting, deadlifting and power cleans. These lifts all rely on the neuromuscular control of the hips and being able to get in the right position at the right time.  Also, they require a great deal of power.  In which case, static stretching before performing them could hinder your performance.  Look in any anatomy/physiology textbook and you'll read about sarcomeres.  Sarcomeres are the contractile units of a muscle and when they are stretched(by static stretching), the contractile force is not as strong.  Think about this when your training, especially for power/strength purposes!

Here is a video of a great dynamic warm-up, called the hip flow, which would be great to do prior to these lifts:

*Thanks to Dean Somerset for the video!

So please reserve your static stretching for after activity to aide in your recovery in efforts to restore the typical length of your muscles(especially those sarcomeres) and to bring your heartrate down to your normal resting level.

Other ways to aide in your recovery after activity are foam rolling, icing, drinking plenty of water and refueling your body with proper nutrition.  Of course, seeing a Chiropractor can certainly help you recover and increase your performance!

If you are unsure on how to properly perform a dynamic warm-up for your activity or need stretching tips/advice, please contact me.  Definitely, if you have pain, schedule with me for an evaluation.

Remember, "Get Pain Free with Dr. G!"

P.S. Stay tuned for my next post on Foam Rolling to see how it can help increase your performance and aide in your recovery!

1.) Herbert, Rob D., and Michael Gabriel. "Effects of stretching before and after exercising on muscle soreness and risk of injury: systematic review." Bmj325.7362 (2002): 468.

2.) Jamtvedt, Gro, et al. "A pragmatic randomised trial of stretching before and after physical activity to prevent injury and soreness." British journal of sports medicine 44.14 (2010): 1002-1009. 

3.) Haddad, Monoem, et al. "Static stretching can impair explosive performance for at least 24 hours." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 28.1 (2014): 140-146.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Can we be too flexible?

We've heard it our whole lives. We've been told by our parents, friends, coaches even our doctors that we needed to be more flexible. So we were told to stretch and stretch some more. But, I want to raise the questions of "Can we be too flexible?" and "Do we need to stretch all?"

Odds are if you can touch your palms on the floor without bending your knees, straighten your arms so your elbow goes toward the ceiling or straighten your legs so to the point that your knees go backwards you don't need to be stretching.  You need to focus on stabilizing your joints to protect their integrity.

I want to introduce you to what is called the Beighton Score of Hypermobility.  It takes only two minutes, but it will reveal whether or not you need to focus your time stretching or increasing stability.

Here is how the Beighton scoring for hypermobility works.  Perform each of the following tests and if you can do it, your score is a one(1).  If you can't, your score is a zero(0),

  • knee hyperextension standing or lying down on both sides
  • elbow hyperextension on both sides 
  • thumb to front of your forearm on both sides
  • middle finger extension
  • touching your palms to floor keeping your knees locked out
Here is a quick video demonstrating the test:

*Having trouble viewing this? Click this link to see the video:

In his video series, Ruthless Mobility(1), Dean Somerset summarizes certain populations and their average scoring breakdown.  He states that, "If you get a 4 or 5 you don't need to stretch and you need more stabilization".  He goes on to state that "Swimmers score around a 3-4...Hockey players are usually a zero due to the nature of their sport...Basketball players usually a 1 because they score well on the elbow hyperextension...and Gymnasts/Dancers typically score a 5".  To clarify, in his his scoring he does a 0-5 scale.  I have seen other references that score each side of each test individually, making the score scale, 0-9.  Such as the research conducted by Bouwien, et al that demonstrated that those "who tested high on the Beighton score also showed increased range of motion in other joints"(2).

I like the idea of using the 0-9 scale, so that you can see differences side to side.  This can give you a plan to attack any asymmetries you may have.  Keep in mind that these asymmetries won't change overnight and can take weeks to months depending on your body.

Arguably, with our society these days being more sedentary and working behind a desk, stretching can be very beneficial to restore poor postural habits, provide some pain relief, increase range of motion and reduce stress, especially when focusing on your breathing.  I encourage you to perform this two minute test to see if you should focus on stretching or stability.  Your score will play a role in what you need to do before activity, exercise or competition.

If you are unsure on how to perform/score the test, need stretching tips/advice, not sure what exercises to do in order to stabilize please contact me.  Definitely, if you have pain, schedule with me for an evaluation.

Remember, "Get Pain Free with Dr. G!"

P.S. Stay tuned for my next post on Static Stretching vs Dynamic Warmup


1.) Ruthless Mobility, Dean Somerset

2.) Bouwien, et al. Beighton Score: A Valid Measure for Generalized Hypermobility in Children. The Journal of Pediatrics. January 2011. Volume 158, Issue 1, Pages 119–123.e4