Things to Know about Stretching: Active Static Stretch

active stretching for hamstrings

Position A                                               Position B

Last blog discussed one of two different types of static stretching which is the passive type. The second variety is called active. In this method, you position which ever part of the body you’re stretching at its end range of motion and hold it at that location without moving the joint.  Hence the term static (being still).  The major difference between passive and active is the degree of muscle contraction.  In passive stretching the joint is positioned at its end range of motion while having support or resting on some object. Active stretching still has the joint at its end range of motion, but there is no support.  The muscles have to provide the support.

In position A,  her hands are supporting the hip to help keep it the in the 90 degree location but is not an active part of the stretch. In position B, the quadriceps (front of the thigh) are contracting causing the hamstrings (back of thigh) to lengthen out.

In position B, you’re contracting the quadriceps and neurologically the body is trying to relax the hamstrings. There still is contraction to the hamstrings. Technically this is called an eccentric contraction which is muscle contraction as it lengthens.  This is a normal physiological response and happens all the time.  The eccentric contraction acts as a braking mechanism to the opposing muscle that is also contracting, but shortening (technically called concentric contraction).  In this case it is the quadriceps.

The caution here is that any muscle at its end range of eccentric or concentric contraction has a far greater chance of cramping and even more susceptible when it is fatigued. So, the safest way to go about active static stretching is to slowly approach the end range of motion without fully getting to the end right away.  Maintain the position for a few seconds then relax and try again.  Repeat as often as you like unless you’re starting out for the first time.  In this case, I’d only do several repetitions, holding for a few seconds and then call it a day. If you over did it, you might not realize it until the following day. Just take baby steps when starting out.

So why do we want to do active static stretching?  Well, it is a good way to introduce blood flow into the muscle groups and get it ready of activity.  It’s also a great way to begin muscular exercise routine when starting out for the first time. It doesn’t take much load to get the muscle active, especially when starting out for the first time or retraining injured muscles.


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The Different Types of Stretches: Static

Dr. Dalton doing a passive static stretch called the TV stretch.

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Things to Know About Stretching: “Tripod of Exercise”

For the most part, stretching gets such a bad rap in the exercise world.  Most athletes and exercise enthusiasts become hooked on the “real” part of exercising;  cardiovascular and strength training.  Well, I never saw a tripod be able to stand on only 2 of the 3 legs!  It’s going to fall down for sure.  This same concept applies to the tripod of exercising:  cardiovascular, strength and stretching.  We can see the improvements in strength and endurance, but it seems nothing appreciable when stretching.  Why do it if there seems to be no benefit?  The short answer to this that the more flexible the muscle, the stronger it is; harder you could potentially train and less likely to become injured.  Sounds like good stuff to me.  So, let’s not poo poo stretching and begin to have a new respect.  Remember, a tripod needs 3 legs to stand.

Knowing the types and methods of stretching provides an excellent cognitive approach to improving range of motion, joint health and overall body wellness.  This series will go over the various types with the pros and cons.  These are the major types of stretches we will be discussing:

  1. Static
  2. Active
  3. Dynamic
  4. Functional
  5. PNF

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Hydration: Is Caffeine and Alcohol OK while exercising?

Think about drinking your coffee or tea this morning. Within about 30 minutes your mood and alertness picks up. For most of us, it’s why we have a cup or two. On the other hand, the more coffee we drink we have to urinate more frequently. From an exercise perspective, an important question is whether any potential water loss from caffeine intake might counteract any positive effect on increased energy output that might be gained from caffeine consumption.  The research indicates that about 180 mg/dose of caffeine is the level to consume prior to an event to help boost performance with endurance activities and sprints lasting about 5 minutes.  This will give the added energy, yet not compromise water loss.  This is equivalent to two tea cups of regular plain drip coffee with blood caffeine levels peaking in 1-2 hours.

From a sport fairness stand, it can be argued that caffeine should not be ingested as it qualifies as a performance enhancing drug.  By rights, it is.  However, it is not tested for in sporting events.

I certainly do not recommend kids taking caffeine in this manner.  Just too many risk factors and unhealthy habits that can develop.  Don’t do it!

I have to admit that I do have coffee every morning.  If it happens to coincide with a race or sporting event, so be it.  I do not use caffeine with the intent of performance enhancement.

With regard to alcohol, it is not recommended pre-exercise or post exercise.  It significantly dehydrates. In fact, post exercise alcohol consumption prolongs the 12 hours it normally takes to re-hydrate. Alcohol has no benefit in an athlete’s regular conditioning protocol. Perhaps an occasional drink, but that’s it.

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Hydration 6 of 6: Which sports drinks are best?

Sport drinks get a lot of “talk” and attention for water and electrolyte replacements.  My last blog discussed the average intake of sodium, potassium and water replenishment during activities.  Recall that the hourly intakes should be 8 oz of water, 115-173 mg sodium and 20-48 mg potassium.  The Gatorade produced chart below shows what’s contained in various sport drinks.

Carbohydrate consumption at a small level, less than 8%, is suggested when exercising 60 minutes or more as it provides an added fuel source for the muscles.  This equates to 17 g of carbohydrates in 8 fluid ounces.   Amounts greater than 8% tends to slow down gastric emptying.  This would interfere with quicker absorption of the needed water and electrolytes in the small and large intestines of the digestive tract.

Some good all round choices would be Gatorade (of course!), Accelerade and Met-RX. Notice that all the drinks do not have caffeine.  I will address this next blog.

If you’re not a big fan using sport drinks, water is still very good.  You have to keep in mind that you’ll need to get the proper amount of electrolytes as well;  perhaps in oranges, bananas or energy packs/gels.

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Ebola Virus: Researcher explains recent outbreak in West Africa

Dalton Chiropractic Blog

Oklahoma researcher explains recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa

Joshua Ward, the director of scholar development and undergraduate research at Oklahoma State University, answered a few questions about the evolving Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: July 16, 2014 at 11:00 am •  Published: July 15, 2014 in “The Oklahoman”
Edmond native Joshua Ward was only 8 when “Outbreak” came out, but he still remembers the impact that the movie and other films like it had on him.

Although made for entertainment, films like “Outbreak,” a 1995 thriller about a virus with a 100 percent mortality rate, shed light on a world of pathogens and their nonhuman primate hosts, Ward said.

Ward, the director of scholar development and undergraduate research at Oklahoma State University, answered a few questions about the evolving Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Ward’s published research extends from non-human primate genetics to human…

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Hydration 5 of 6: Proper Water an electrolyte replenishing rates when exercising

Providing our body the correct amount of water and electrolytes will assure our best performance.  This is accomplished in three ways:  pre-exercise, during the event and post-exercise.

Pre-exercise consumption should be up to 12 hrs prior to the event with slow consumption at least 4 hours prior to exercising ( you don’t want to feel too full and maintain maximum hydration).  A good test to see if you are getting enough water is to make sure the urine is a straw color, not to dark or clear).  If you know you’re a heavy sweater or are exercising in hot and humid conditions, eat some salty foods.

During the exercise activity,  drinking 8 oz/hour is recommended.  You want to try and replace the amount of water and electrolytes lost during this time frame.  The average is about 8 oz/hour and should contain the two most important electrolytes, Sodium (Na) and Potassium (K) at a rate of 115-172 mg, and 20-48 mg, respectively.  The exact rate will vary depending on how much you sweat and climate conditions.  An accurate way of determining how much water you lose is to weight yourself without clothes before and then after.  For every pound lost is equal to 1 liter of water (including the lose of Na and K).  Remember, the level of dehydration is losing more than 2% of your body weight.

For post-exercise hydration, drink the volume of water lost and include electrolyte replacement.  Getting back the lost electrolytes is just as crucial.  We tend to think that the water replacement is the only thing needed, this is not so.  If  we drink only water during and/or after exercising, we run the risk of hyponatrema, low Na in the blood.  This will cause swelling in the brain, lethargy and unconsciousness;  a deadly mixture!  You can re-hydrate by drinking sports drinks.  You can also drink just plain water and eat some salty foods.  Complete re-hydration takes about 12 hours.

Next blog I’ll discuss various sport drinks.

To set up a chiropractic or massage office visit:  Online scheduling

Dalton Chiropractic Website

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