However, I said it in my book. And I'll repeat it again here - if I had to choose only one form of exercise, it would be stretching.
If you hate stretching, then you and I have a lot in common. But, you must, you simply must, add stretching to you fitness training. You can get the job done in 10-minutes, 4 days a week. But don't miss the many wonderful benefits of stretching.
Stretching Will Not Release The HGH Fitness Hormone
Stretching is not the kind of exercise that will release HGH growth hormone, but it will prepare your body for the exercises that can.
Simply, if you don't have an appropriate stretching routine in your fitness program, then you may be risking injury every time you perform anaerobic training like the Sprint 8 Workout, or weight-plyos.
Stretching Can Aid In Reversing Hardening Of The Arteries
Researchers show that prolonged stretching (in the form of yoga) with moderate aerobic exercise and diet control will reduce cholesterol and significantly reverse hardening of the arteries (20 percent regression) in adults with proven coronary atherosclerotic disease.
After one year in a yoga program, participants lost weight, reduced cholesterol, and improved their exercise capacity, (Retardation of coronary atherosclerosis with yoga lifestyle intervention, 2000, Manchanda).
If you have time for yoga classes, or your martial arts training emphasizes stretching, that's great. Keep it up! But if you're not attending karate or yoga classes, then the 10-Minute Synergy Fitness Stretching Routine may be for you.
New Research Reverses The Rule On Stretching
Coaches have instilled it into the minds of their athletes as long as anyone can remember - stretch before you workout or play a game, and the more the better.
While I always do the 10-Minute Stretching Routine prior to the Sprint 8 Workout for the warm-up benefit, new research totally reverses the pre-game philosophy of stretching.
Researchers show that athletes should not perform prolonged stretching routines before playing a game because it temporarily slows muscle activation. Prolonged stretching decreases strength for up to an hour after stretching by slightly impairing muscle activation. (Reduced strength after passive stretch of the human plantar flexors, 2000, Fowles).
Don't let this research become a reason to not add the 10-Minute Stretching Routine to your fitness plan. A complete stretching program to increase flexibility is important -- just not an hour before the big game.
Stretching Technique Is Everything
Since warming up prior to anaerobic training is an absolute rule - never to be broken - stretching can be combined (multi-tasked) by using the 10-Minute Stretching Routine as your warm-up.
This strategy is appropriate for the warm-up prior to training, but not before the game or a key practice session. The goal of the warm-up is to get the blood flowing and raise body temperature (one degree) prior to high-intensity workouts and athletic competitions.
30 Second Stretch-hold Position
Flexibility is dependent on the "duration" of stretching position, and the researchers show the best "stretch-hold position" is 30 seconds. (The effect of time on static stretch on the flexibility of the hamstring muscles, 1994, Bandy).
Slow Motion Rule
It's important to move carefully and slowly into the stretched-out position. Once you're there, hold it 30 seconds. And move in slow motion to change positions.
During the 35 years that I've been involved in fitness training, I've noticed (here's my opinion and not backed by research) that stretching is unlike any form of exercise. Most exercises provide positive results quickly.
With stretching, it's like the body fights flexibility gains for the first few weeks. Then, between weeks four and six, the body stops resisting and agrees to increase flexibility.
So, if you've tried stretching before and didn't see results, hang in there. Stretching provides many wonderful benefits, even for the "naturally tight" like me. Thanks for reading.
National Library of Medicine links to research studies in newsletter: