If you’re an athlete, then you should know just how important stretching is – not only is it integral to your ability to perform at your highest level, but it’s also critical towards ensuring that you don’t suffer a nasty injury. And even when so many of us athletes understand the dangers that can come with neglecting to stretch out before a workout, a match, or a competition, we still take the risk and try to hit the ground running – but eventually, we’ll simply just hit the ground. And we won’t be running!
However, there may be something to the idea of neglecting to stretch immediately before a competition – and while it may go against everything that you’ve ever learned, heard, or read about competing, hear us out.
The Secret Warning
As it turns out, research is beginning to support the notion that stretching immediately before a competition could actually inversely affect your performance. You might be asking yourself, “how could that possibly be true?” Well, as it turns out, stretching actually causes your body to slightly lose muscle power for a brief period of time.
Think about it, stretching after a workout is key towards reducing the buildup of lactic acid in your muscles after pushing them hard for a prolonged period of time. And after we’ve finished stretching, it shouldn’t be too surprising to feel your muscles relax a bit, right? Apparently, this same phenomenon occurs when we stretch immediately prior to a competition – we force our muscles into a relaxed state and when we do that, they can become more susceptible to injury.
What’s The Best Stretching Strategy?
Perhaps instead of stretching prior to a competition, it would be better to simply warm up your muscles by engaging in a brief warmup activity of some sorts. Not only will this allow your muscles to naturally stretch through their elasticity, but it’ll also help to prepare your heart for what’s soon to come.
From there, you can save the stretching for the end of the match. Again, this will help to reduce the buildup of lactic acid, and it’ll ensure that you bring your heart rate down and bring your muscles to a point of relaxation, where they can recover and continue to gain strength.
Is Stretching Still Important?
All in all – stretching is still 100% important – especially after a workout, a match, or a competition. However, it may not be as critical when it comes to the beginning of a workout. Instead, focus on warming up your muscles and getting your heart rate up. This is a surefire way to help ensure that you prevent an injury during or after your next big competition.