NYTimes article on stretching

From NYTimes.com: Stretching: The Truth

Researchers now believe that some of the more entrenched elements of many athletes’ warm-up regimens are not only a waste of time but actually bad for you. The old presumption that holding a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds — known as static stretching — primes muscles for a workout is dead wrong. It actually weakens them. In a recent study conducted at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, athletes generated less force from their leg muscles after static stretching than they did after not stretching at all. Other studies have found that this stretching decreases muscle strength by as much as 30 percent. Also, stretching one leg’s muscles can reduce strength in the other leg as well, probably because the central nervous system rebels against the movements.

When I was studying karate several years ago we did mostly static stretching, but one of the higher level students who was leading warm-up exercises introduced us to a couple of “active” stretching exercises.  We’d hold our hand in straight out in front and kick up to it.  The way he explained it to us is that if we ever had to fight on the street that our opponents wouldn’t give us a chance to static stretch first.  But, I guess we wouldn’t have a chance to active stretch either, but that’s besides the point.

The article illustrates a couple of interesting exercises that I would describe as more whole body stretching exercises.

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