You may have heard me harp on about avoiding static stretching before a class. Especially if you were one of my students. As I have always said static stretching before exercise opens you up to injury. To my surprise not only can it open you up to injury static stretching will also decrease your performance and strength!
Static stretching before exercise makes the muscles more prone to injury due to the elongation of the muscle fibers and then applying force on them during your exercise regime. This is further amplified in aerial training as we are dropping dynamic loads on our bodies joints and muscles.
I commonly see students static stretching when waiting for their class and they are generally the ones that suffer from injuries. Static stretching in the hips to increase the splits before a class opens you up to tears or strains in the hips or hamstrings. If this is you it’s only a matter of time until you sustain an injury. It’s time to stop static stretching beforehand and save it for post-workout.
There are many teachers out there that will instruct you to perform static stretching before class, I urge you not to participate. You can politely decline without making a scene and continue to look after your body.
What is Static Stretching?
Static stretching is when you stretch a muscle or muscle group in a static position. Meaning you hold the stretch without movement. This could be for 15 seconds 30 seconds or longer.
Why do instructors teach static stretching?
Static stretching is not bad, it can be a great method to increase your flexibility, it’s more about when you use it.
There are a lot of inexperienced unqualified teachers and it can be hard to know who to listen to. There are no certified qualifications in the aerial industry so you have teachers going off what they think rather than what is right and factual.
With that being said I thought I would put this article together with heavy research to show to you why you should not perform static stretching especially if you are about to hit the air. Well unless you want to decrease your performance.
While flexibility is something that all aerialists want to work on as well as their strength training the deeper we can get into our flexibility the more dramatic our moves appear. Flexibility training should be focused on post work out or as work out on it’s own. But hey don’t just take my word for it.
The Research On Static Stretching
The journal of strength and conditioning talks about stretching prior to exercise:
“Stretching exercises are usually part of warm-up routines before involvement in competitive sports and physical activities. It is believed that their use will enhance subsequent performance, reduce the risk of injury, and alleviate muscle soreness symptoms.
However, some recent studies have shown that acute static stretching may reduce strength and power production with a detrimental effect on muscle performance.
Therefore, some researchers have recommended that static stretching should not be used right before activities that require high levels of strength and power.”
Further research published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that static stretching can make your muscles weaker and wobblier. This was concluded through their scientific research experiment on young men.
”If young, moderately trained men stretched before they lifted weights, they were weaker and wobblier than they expected to be during their lower body strength workout.”
When I am up in the air the last thing I want to do is be weaker and wobblier. Aerial is dependent on strength and controlled balance.
Andalusian Journal of Sports Medicine performed experimental research on static stretching and sports performance. The findings reinforce the fact that static stretching decreases your performance when applied during a warm-up.
“Static stretching (SS) is one of the methods often adopted to improve the range of motion temporarily.
Static Stretching adopted prior to resistance training (RT) can induce significant decreases on muscle endurance, torque, and power performance 11.
Researchers found little benefit (if any) in static stretching. In fact, they found that stretching a cold, tight muscle that has not already been thoroughly warmed up could actually increase the likelihood of injury.”
Is all stretching bad?
No. Dynamic stretching brings blood flow into the muscles warming them up without over exerting the lengthening process of stretching.
The Department of Physical Education and Sports, found that dynamic stretching improved sports performance.
“The results of the study proved the substantially better preparedness and performance of the group of top-level ice hockey players prior to the speed and speed-strength load after the application of dynamic rather than static stretching.
On the basis of the study in agreement with many authors (we consider dynamic stretching to be the most suitable warm-up method prior to speed-strength types of load.”
What Stretching Is Good Before Exercise?
This could be in the form of high knees, squat jumps, or any type of movement that warms the muscles with force and momentum to move the joint through a full range of motion.
Still unsure of how to put a warm-up program together? Try my 24 Dynamic exercises for increasing flexibility.
How can I keep track of my flexibility results?
I have written a guide on how to measure the flexibility of the adductors which you can find here.
Stay strong and limber,
Effectiveness of static and dynamic stretching prior to speed and speed-strength load PUPIŠ MARTIN1 PIVOVARNIČEK PAVOL2 PUPIŠOVÁ ZUZANA3 TOKÁROVÁ MARTINA4 , MORAVČÍK JURAJ15 1,2,3,4,5 Department of Physical Education and Sports, Faculty of Arts, Matej Bel University, SLOVAK REPUBLIC.
Acute Effect of a Ballistic and a Static Stretching Exercise Bout on Flexibility and Maximal Strength, Bacurau, Reury Frank Pereira1; Monteiro, Gizele Assis2; Ugrinowitsch, Carlos3; Tricoli, Valmor3; Cabral, Leonardo Ferreira4; Aoki, Marcelo Saldanha1
A Comparison between Self Myofascial Release and Static Stretching for Flexibility and Exercise Adherence: 2508 Board #255 May 29, 9: 30 AM – 11: 00 AM”. Fletcher & Jones, 2004; Herda et al., 2008; Jaggers et al., 2008; Cacek & Bubníková, 2009; Cacek, Hlavoňová & Michálek, 2009; Gelen, 2010)