The debate about stretching seems to be a never ending one. Also the advice from health professionals seems on stretching seems to change faster than the British weather! So what I want to do is barge in with my to cents worth and tell you what I think.
Firstly I personally think stretching is way over used in the health industry and none more so than by personal trainers. When I used to work in one of those big chain gyms I would always see trainers with their clients stretching ten minutes before the workout and ten minutes at the end of a workout.
Now that’s great if your goal is increased flexibility but I know for a fact that most of those clients and most people in general who hire a personal trainer and after one thing….. Weight Loss!
So that’s 20 minutes of your session gone, 20 minutes, one third spent doing something that is not going to help you lose weight at all! that’s a pretty big chunk of time and if you add it up over the course of a year it’s one hell of a lot of wasted time.
But wont it prevent me from getting injured? Well no, there has never been any convincing evidence that static stretching prevents injury, it’s not very specific to the activity that you are about to perform and in fact it could leave you more prone to injury by putting the muscles in a more docile state. A much better strategy is to perform a few light exercises that mimic the activity you are about to perform e.g 1 light set of weights with the exact exercise you are about to do.
And as for at the end of a session I’m even more against stretching and truly believe that it will increase you chances of injury. How’s that? because during exercise you cause little tiny micro tears to your muscles (that’s what makes them grow, get stronger and burn calories to repair) and when you stretch after you are increasing these tears and weakening the muscle beyond the natural point of failure that training would only take them to.
So there you have it my take on stretching and my advice to you if you see a trainer spending one third of a session stretching their client…. don’t hire them!