Things to Know About Stretching: Functional Stretching-The New Way Of Warming Up!


Functional Stretching

Functional stretching is a relatively new concept that’s replacing the traditional static type stretching for pre-activity warm-ups. As the name implies, functional stretching deals with movement related stretching that is similar to dynamic stretching, but includes sport or activity specific mimicking. More traditionally, we tend to think of this as the warm-up exercises prior to some event. Examples of functional stretching would be a sprinter that’s jogging in place or a baseball player in the on deck circle swinging the bat.

It has been interesting to read some of the recent research on static stretching versus functional stretching. One of the papers I read that was published earlier in 2014. It was analyzing athletes and comparing them between static stretching and functional stretching with emphasis placed upon muscle strength post stretching. It was shown that muscle strength decreased after static stretching, especially with regard to vertical jumping. Functional stretching actually showed an increase in strength as compared to the non-stretching control group.

These new revelations emerging about stretching will profoundly affect warm-up activities prior to sporting events. Static stretching really needs to be replaced with functional stretching in order to provide more power, increased flexibility and potentially better activity performance.

So, what kinds of activities could actually be done. It’s obvious answer seeing the baseball player or the sprinter in some of their normal pre-activity warm-ups as mentioned above, but what about if going to work out with weights or doing some kind of gym activity. A great overall body warm-up activity that’s functional, yet covering a variety of joint ranges of motion would be the jumping jack (this is a good 1:17 min YouTube video with some variations).  Other functional stretching you might consider would be to imitate punching a bag, throwing a ball or kicking a soccer ball.

As a general rule of thought, start with smaller ranges of motion and gradually increase the movement as the tissues become more flexible. This might take 30 seconds, a minute or even longer. You’ll develop a sense and feel as the tissues become more flexible and warmed up. Just don’t overdo it.

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About Dr Robert Dalton

Owner and chiropractor of Dalton Chiropractic. My philosophy is to provide chiropractic care to patients of all ages in a drug free fashion through spinal and extraspinal manipulation, physiotherapy, exercise routines, nutritional advice or recommendations; postural and work related changes. This is accomplished by a vast array of techniques chiropractic methods that range form very soft to more active approaches, sacral occipital, connective tissue molding, trigger point, meridian therapy, stretches, exercise consulting and cupping.
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