Yes, it is true, prolonged static stretching during your warm-up can decrease performance in your workout, decrease strength and perhaps leave you open to injury. Static stretching is the old, touch your toes stretch. Study's have found that active stretching and myofascial release is a more effective way to stretch.
A study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows that myofascial release with a foam roller can dramatically increase your range of motion without any negative effects on strength. The study tested 11 well-trained men. Each man was tested for strength on something similar to a leg-extension machine. The men then foam rolled for two minutes on the quadriceps, seeking to put the entire body weight on the foam roller. After foam rolling, his strength was retested.
Researchers found that the foam rolling did not negatively impact strength. Some previous studies have shown that massage and prolonged stretching can reduce strength, so this was a surprise. Another surprise was how much extra range of motion resulted from the foam rolling. The average was 7-10 degrees of improved knee flexion, but some participants improved by up to 20 degrees.
Foam rolling smooths and lengthens your muscles, and breaks up adhesions and scar tissue. Another benefit is that it helps your muscles relax by activating the sensory receptors connecting your muscle fibers to your tendons. The net effect is better blood circulation, which in turn speeds workout recovery and boosts performance.
On our foam roller page is a video showing an example of how to use a foam roller. Please watch the video. If you hit a sore spot, hold it there for 15 to 30 seconds—you found a tight area that needs special attention. Yes, foam rolling can be painful, but you need only 5 to 10 minutes to reap the benefit. I prefer foam rolling post exercise, but you can roll both before and after for maximum benefit. This helps your muscles return to the proper length and recover even faster because it can prevent the buildup of scar tissue.
In my practice, I also like to use "The Stick" myofascial roller. This similarly helps to break of adhesions and create circulation in the muscles. The beauty of the stick is that you can stick it in your bag or suitcase and take it to work. The great thing about the foam roller is that you can add extra pressure by using your body weight. The combination of the two is the best!
We sell both products on our "shop our products" page. http://www.forwardmotion.net/shop-our-products.html
Yours in health, Dr. Kim Maziarz Carlucci
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