Stretching: Is it really worth it?
Stretching , is it really worth it?
As swimmers a good stretch before jumping in the pool is still advised, but are we doing it at the wrong time of our workout? Here are some interesting facts based on recent studies:
One study shows how stretching before exercise does not decrease the risk of injury and that an increased warm-up is probably more valuable.
Some say jump in do your warm up, get out stretch and then hop back in to do the remainder of your workout.
Still, others say wait until after your workout because stretching decreases the muscle's ability to generate force for some period of time after the stretch has been performed; you will be slower after you stretch, until your muscle recovers.
Another line of reasoning is that stretching before a workout only returns a muscle to its normal level of exercise flexibility. To gain flexibility, stretches must be performed after the muscle has been fully warmed up and is already at its greatest current level of flexibility, most likely after a workout has been completed.
So what’s a swimmer to do?
Jump in and do your warm up. A solid 10-15 minutes
Either in or out of the water spend the next 5 – 10 minutes stretching
Progress with the remainder of your workout
As part of your cool down stretch for 5-10 minutes
At a swim meet get a good warm up in following the same guidelines. Right before the race don’t over stretch remember if you had a good warm up and followed the above guidelines a simple light stretch just to get the jitters out is all you should need.
I personally have never been a big fan of stretching but as a now “Masters” swimmer I understand the importance of it. From the beginning of my swimming career I’ve always been taught to stretch prior to a work out, after researching for this article it makes more sense to me now to stretch after I’ve warmed up a bit, plus I’ll do anything to stall before we get to the main portion of the days workout.
See you in the lanes,