Benefits of Stretching. Not! And More . . .

30Nov10

Just before Thanksgiving, a member of Stadion’s Discussion Forum posted info on a new book by Vergil Den that references my work (thanks Tmess!). Out of curiosity I downloaded the book. It is worth reading, well written, and not too long. It is titled The Stoic’s Burden. You may download it from the author’s site at http://www.vergilden.com/.

I write about this book for two reasons:

1. It is written for, in the author’s words, “People seeking general self improvement in the areas of health, fitness, and well-being,” and you will learn:

“Fallacies of conventional wisdom in the areas of medicine, nutrition and business

“Limitations of positive thinking

“Tips and tricks on surviving in the workplace

“Best practices with empirical support as it relates to health, fitness and well-being.”

2. It recommends you read Stretching Scientifically: A Guide to Flexibility Training by Thomas Kurz 😉

Here is what Vergil Den says about Stretching Scientifically:

“One of the first books that publicized the benefits of dynamic stretching and potential harm of static stretching prior to physical activity.”

Which reminds me . . .

I stumbled upon a post on stretching, written by Paul Ingraham, a health science journalist and creator of the website SaveYourself.ca, which “helps you solve pain problems.” The website covers topics such as common therapies for chronic pain and common overuse injuries. Paul Ingraham likes to expose unfounded claims (for example, the alleged benefits of stretching, which are touted even by medical doctors). Here is a partial list of headings in his recent post on stretching, titled “Quite a Stretch”:

  • Why people stretch
  • Stretching research shows that [static] stretching is not an effective warm up
  • Stretching research shows that [static] stretching does not prevent delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
  • Stretching research shows that [static] stretching does not prevent injury
  • [Static] stretching probably doesn’t enhance performance (and it definitely doesn’t make you sprint faster)

Reads like a list of things I told you in every edition of Stretching Scientifically, beginning with the first one, issued in 1985.

Read Paul Ingraham’s whole post here:

http://toddhargrove.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/quite-a-stretch-guest-post-from-paul-ingraham/

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5 Responses to “Benefits of Stretching. Not! And More . . .”

  1. Tom,

    You were ahead of your time – only now are people catching up. I also appreciate all of the content on your website and the science (e.g., citations/references) to support your assertions.

    Vergil Den
    http://www.vergilden.com

  2. Thanks Vergil. Too bad being ahead of one’s time doesn’t pay a lot.

    As for the references–to me the most important “references” are experience and mindful observation. See https://tomkurz.wordpress.com/2010/09/22/an-accurate-observation-is-never-wrong-or-what-a-coach-needs-to-know/

    Thomas Kurz
    http://www.stadion.com

  3. Hi Coach,
    thanks for the tip on the book, very interesting read. I have looked at the research quoted on the army recruits- ,very poorly constructed to say that stretching does not help prevent injury. Stretching before doing a route march is hardly warming up, so no surprise there.
    Improving overall flexibility and ensuring the body is balanced symetrically is key to prevent injuries. This is especially important to counter act our asymmetrical lifestyles and a lot of sports ( cricket, tennis, rowing et al.)

    I like the videos you have been doing too.

  4. 4 Eric

    Hi Thomas,

    I have just finished reading Stretching Scientifically and I am experimenting with the exercises and methods to see how my body responds. Thank you for this amazing resource – it is well written, well organized and extremely well researched and referenced!

    After reading the book I realize how weak my adductors are, so I tried the basic Adductor Fly exercise.

    I find I cannot get my legs straight in the air because my hamstrings are extremely tight, so I will work on lengthening the hamstrings with the various methods.

    However, from what I can do, I notice a pain deep in the front of the hip when I perform the Adductor Fly exercise, especially if I try to prevent my hips from externally rotating.

    If I allow my feet to flop out and hips to externally rotate, the pain lessens or goes away completely.

    Plus, any hip internal rotation with the hip flexed causes this pain.

    I also experience this pain when in the Horse-Riding stance.

    Do you have any insight on what may be causing this pain?

  5. Hi Eric,
    Sounds like tight external rotators of the hip. For more see my article, My Best Advice on Sports Injuries, at http://www.stadion.com/injuries-best-advice-on-sports-injuries/.


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