Stretching - No Running Today
I couldn’t remember if I was supposed to be running with Shana this morning, so I got up anyway, had a little breakfast (a slice of the bread I baked yesterday - the first time I’ve baked with live yeast. Tastes soooo good!), and took Huge Dalmatian out for a short walk.
Shana didn’t turn up at seven o’clock though, so I figured that she hadn’t anticipated going for a run this morning - good thing too, as I’m supposed to be resting that heel of mine, and running is officially off the menu for the next 8-12 weeks
But I was up and out of bed, and the sun was streaming in through the sitting room windows, so I thought I really should do some stretching. I find this pretty hard work though, as I much prefer cardio-intensive things, and especially those where the scenery changes while you do it. So as a result, stretching isn’t something I do enough of. And that’s probably not a good thing. At all.
My basic routine is to start sitting on the floor, and go through hamstrings, quads, vastus medialis, and groin. Then up to standing for soleus (or is that soleii?), abductors, achilles tendon, and plantar fascia. You’ll notice that there’s nothing there above the waist - a reflection on my running background.
This morning after I went through my routine, I decided to read up a little about stretching to see if I could find some things that would help with swimming too, and if I was actually doing it right- remember, the first rule of engineering: if all else fails, read the instructions.
In my handy copy of Triathlete’s Training Bible by Joe Friel, there’s a short section on stretching, compete with diagrams of what each stretch looks like. More importantly, it gives descriptions of different types of stretching:
- Ballistic - common in the 1960’s this is the method with bouncing movements to really tug those muscles / ligaments / tendons into shape. BAD IDEA - the muscle’s response to the sudden shock is to contract to prevent injury, perversely leading to potentially worse injury problems. These days almost no one stretches like this.
- Static - pioneered by Bob Anderson, you stretch to the point of slight discomfort, and hold it right there for a few seconds. This is what most people do today, including me.
- PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation - just remember the acronym!) - reckoned to be 10-15% more effective than static stretching. What you do is a static strech of the muscle for about eight seconds, contract the same muscle for about eight seconds, and repeat 4-8 times, always finishing on a static stretch. So each set of stretches will take about two minutes.
- Active Isolated - brief assisted stretches that are repeated several times. What you do is contract the opposing muscle group as you move into position, and using hands, a towel, or rope to enhance the stretch (at light tension), hold for about two seconds and release. Return to the start position and relax for a couple of seconds before repeating - one or two sets of 8-12 repeats for each stretch.
What I’m going to try to do is regular PNF stretching - there seems to be some structure to it that will suit my system-oriented temperament, but without the ropes & towels (whips & chains?) of Active Isolated. I’d also worry that with the active isolated, there’d be the temptation (at least for me) to snap to the stretch position, making it more like ballistic stretching. And I really don’t want to go there.
- Type: Flexibility
- Date: 07/10/2008
- Time: 09:19:23
- Total Time: 00:20:00.00