Stretching Before Training

by Matt Elphick

The subject of stretching is very controversial, especially when it is related to the one performed before the training session.

Research and clinical experience have shown that the stretching performed before the training session must be short and dynamic, or better yet, it cannot be static stretching.

The type of stretching we teach in Structural Assessment and use with great success before training sessions, is PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation).

A prerequisite to perform static stretching is to be able to relax the central nervous system, which is something you don’t want before a training session. Also, with the static stretching, the impacted structures of the body will reach a new range of motion where there is no strength or muscular activation, and if that happens before the training session, it is actually predisposing the trainee to a possible injury.

On the other hand, PNF is composed by stretches and subsequent contractions in the gained range of motion, which ensures that you will have muscle activation in the new range reached, thus preventing the risk of injury, and giving you a better flexibility.

The proper execution of the movements and exercises during any training session require optimal ranges of motion in order to ensure the proper mechanics and form, which in the end will decrease and prevent the risk of injury.

For example, proper execution of a shoulder press requires an adequate internal rotators flexibility, and proper performance of a squat – optimal ankle flexibility.

So, do I suggest to stretch before a training session? Yes, I do! Find the structures that need an improved flexibility for the training session to be executed (again, something we teach in Structural Assessment), and perform PNF stretching on them. You can be sure that the progress from session to session will improve, and also the health of the joints in the body.

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