If you know anything about me, you know that I absolutely hate when athletes perform a static stretch before a game or a training session. I specifically call this out in a previous post titled, "Your Football Coach Is Ruining Your Career".
It is not that I hate static stretching. I just think that most people are doing it at the wrong time.
When is the right time?
In this post, I will give you my own personal recipe for success with respect to when and how you should stretch. In addition, I will discuss how to properly activate your muscles before a training session and how to recover afterwards.
Step 1: Preparation / Recovery
When: Before Your Training Session
What: Self Myofascial Release (SMR)
SMR can include rolling on a foam roller, a lacrosse ball, a soft ball, a medicine ball, etc.
In my opinion, its best to get the "knots" out of your muscles before you even begin to try to move around in the gym or on the field.
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Step 2: Stimulate the Nervous System
When: At the Start of Your Training Session
What: Jump Rope
Every session at Advanced Training begins with 3 rounds of 150 touches on the jump rope.
Not only does it help with foot speed, coordination, and power generation, it also helps stimulate the central nervous system and get the blood pumping to your muscles.
It is only after we have blood pumping to our muscles that we begin the dynamic stretch.
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Step 3: Muscle Activation
When: Right after Stimulating the Nervous System
What: Dynamic Warm-Up
After jumping rope, we immediately move into some form of a dynamic warm-up.
The warm-up should last no more than 5 minutes, and it should focus on both mobility and muscle activitation.
Here are videos of the two dynamic warm-ups we are currently performing.
Step 4: Train / Compete
Step 5: Muscle Recovery
When: Right After the Session / Right Before Bed
What: Static Stretch + SMR
Despite my "hating on" the pre-training static stretch, I am a big fan of the Post-Training static stretch.
At Advanced Training, we perform a series a static stretches at the end of every session.
While it is not optimal to perform these stretches immediately after a session, I don't trust anyone enough to believe they will do it later on their own.
If you are well disciplined person, the optimal time to perform your static stretching would be right before bed. If you really want to take it to the next level, couple your late night static stretch with another foam rolling session.
If you follow all 5 of my "ingredients" above, I promise you will have a long, healthy training career.
If you decide to throw "Paint on the Mona Lisa", don't expect a Get Well card from me after your next surgery.
Stretch to Lose
Your Coach Is Ruining Your Career
The 4 Minute Warm-Up
The 2.5 Minute Warm-Up