Reasons not to stretch

From the NY Times phys Ed blog:

Now, two new studies are giving us additional reasons not to stretch.

One, a study being published this month in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, concluded that if you stretch before you lift weights, you may find yourself feeling weaker and wobblier than you expect during your workout. Those findings join those of another new study from Croatia, a bogglingly comprehensive re-analysis of data from earlier experiments that was published in The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. Together, the studies augment a growing scientific consensus that pre-exercise stretching is generally unnecessary and likely counterproductive.

Many issues related to exercise and stretching have remained unresolved. In particular, it is unclear to what extent, precisely, subsequent workouts are changed when you stretch beforehand, as well as whether all types of physical activity are similarly affected.

This was about stretching before a workout. I read the article wondering what they thought about stretching after, but they didn’t mention it. They do say that this is just about ‘static stretching’ and not about warming up with jogging or other exercises that mimic the motions that you’ll be doing in the workout itself.

A better choice, he continued, is to warm-up dynamically, by moving the muscles that will be called upon in your workout. Jumping jacks and toy-soldier-like high leg kicks, for instance, prepare muscles for additional exercise better than stretching. As an unscientific side benefit, they can also be fun.

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links for 2010-02-09

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The Jordan YMCA

I stayed after my water aerobics class tonight to take an extra half-hour resistance weight-training course in the pool. Man, I thought I had endorphin highs before. I feel great. There were tons of people at the Y tonight — the construction on their new wellness center is finished and they have a lot of new equipment, so that was at least part of the crowd, along with all the New Year’s resolution folks. But as long as there’s room in the pool, I’m okay with that. I’m just glad that I have some physical activity that isn’t tedious and boring to do.

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Do Not Drink the Pool Water

Last night I went to water aerobics at the YMCA with my friend Chi. I’ve taken swimming classes (years ago) but I’ve never done a water aerobics class – it was excellent. It’s high-impact but low stress; you get lots of exercise but you don’t put stress on your joints, or sweat, either. In fact, you don’t really realize what you’re doing is that hard. Until you get out of the pool after an hour and gravity takes over; suddenly every muscle in your body is very, very tired.

I’d forgotten how much I enjoy being in the pool; it’s been years. Like 1994, actually, when I lived in the Marott Apartments, and swam in the pool in the basement in the mornings before going to work.

I’ll definitely be going regularly. The only drawback is that I’m afraid I’ll suddenly start doing water aerobics moves in ballroom dance class, or vice versa. After all of the moves for water aerobics, the steps of ballroom dance went completely out of my head.

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