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Moving Stretches


This week's question

How come all of the stretches you recommend are moving stretches? When I played sports we used to hold stretches for 30 seconds or more. My answer - In the last 10-15 years, there has been a lot of research on stretching. As lab measurement technology has improved, so has the research. It has been found that doing what is known as "static" stretching actually decreases performance in the time after doing it. On the contrary, active stretching, or moving into and out of a stretch generally increases performance.

Secondarily, any "flexibility gains" from static stretching, or holding the stretch, tend to be short lived. This is likely because when you go into a stretch position, the brain and nervous system start to panic a bit saying "what are you doing?!" and when you stop, say "Oh man that was awful, it must have been a mistake we should tighten up". During active stretching, the brain gets the idea that you are purposely and slowly moving in and out of the stretch, which on the brain's end is much more relaxing.

Finally, specifically for people with joint hyper mobility, knowing where to "stop" a stretch can be difficult. People with hypermobility have a decrease in the receptors in the muscle that remind us to stop, and it is quite possible to push and twist into a position that puts the joint in danger. Doing active stretching requires some internal stability for the joint, due to the muscles contracting around it, and is much safer for the joint.

Hope this helps!

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