I have a mate and every time we go to the beach he has to spend 20 minutes stretching before he hits the water. Now he also expects me to launch his kite so inevitably I (being the kind and considerate chap I am) end up sitting through his impromptu Yoga session with gritted teeth waiting to get out on the water. At some point through his contortionist act he’ll no doubt call out,
“You should join me you know, you’ll get injured out there if you’re not careful.”
“No thank you good sir.” (I swear I’m that polite!)
And yours should be too if you’ve any sense.
I’m sure if you’re like me, since the age of 0 you’ve been told to stretch before you do any form of exercise. To loosen your muscles up and prevent injury…
Now I’ve always had my doubts about this (and to be honest I’ve always hoped I was right as I was often too lazy to be bothered to stretch) but recently science has got on my side at least for the form of stretching that my mate does.
You see he practices something called static stretching.
This is just the posh way of referring to the stretches which most people do before a workout or hitting the water, you know the bend over and touch your toes type of stretches. To define them a bit better they’re stretches where you get into the stretch position and then hold the stretch without moving.
The problem is that static stretching doesn’t really help your mobility, worse done before a session it can negatively impact your performance on the water. For example a recent study found that runners were on average 13 seconds slower when they performed static stretching right before a one mile up hill run.
In fact several studies have shown that static stretches can inhibit the amount of force a muscle can produce in just about any jumping, running or lifting activity and even worse, it doesn’t reduce your risk of injury.
It all comes down to the fact that making muscles loose and tendons too stretchy before exercise prevents them from producing quick and powerful responses.
Think about it like this, when you’re doing static stretches you’re doing the complete opposite of what you’re trying to achieve on the water as a kitesurfer…
That’s not the only problem with static stretching. If your body is already a bit messed up or injured (and lets face it who’s isn’t!) stretching can create more problems.
So if you’re prone to hyper mobility too much stretching can make you…
Joint hyper mobility, whilst cool at parties, means less ability to produce force and increased risk of cartilage and bone injury.
Another drawback…when you exercise (or kitesurf) frequently your muscle fibres can easily get cross linked, knotted and stuck to one another in a pattern called an “adhesion.”
Think of your muscles as a rope with a knot in the middle. When you pull on the rope at both ends the knot gets tighter and more difficult to untie. This is exactly how static stretching can make things worse if you have poor mobility, adhesions, knots and other tissue issues.
Added to this most people have a set repertoire of stretches they run through again and again meaning that whilst some joints are getting stretchier, other aren’t which can lead to huge imbalances down the line..think of a bicycle wheel with bumps and dents at random spots all over it so it’s really not a circular shape any more at all…
Bumpy ride huh?
But this is effectively what is happening to your body.
So what’s a guy or gal to do?
We’ll be covering that next week but in the meantime I’ve put together a FREE 7 day kitesurf specific workout and I’m giving it away for FREE! you can download it here >>
See you on the water,