We've all seen it, and we've all done it: the stretch routine before a match. But are you doing more harm than good? Old ways die hard, some say, and it would appear that stretching is one of them. A once universally held belief; that static stretching is best done prior to your workout, to ready your muscles and prevent injury; is still widely practiced among amateur athletes all around the world. But science has moved on. Researchers now believe that some of the more entrenched elements of many athletes’ warm-up regimens are not only a waste of time but actually bad for you. The old presumption that holding a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds — known as static stretching — primes muscles for a workout is dead wrong. It actually weakens them. In a recent study conducted at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, athletes generated less force from their leg muscles after static stretching than they did after not stretching at all. Other studies have found that this stretching decreases muscle strength by as much as 30 percent. Source ... The article goes on to suggest best practices specifically for tennis players warming up for a match, and how static stretches is a definite no-no. Not only does it weaken your muscles by up to 30%, but it does not help to prevent injury. Static Stretching When you stretch your muscle into a pose, then hold it. Imagine standing straight-leg, bending to touch your toes, holding it, then bending a little more, holding it, and so on. This is a static stretch. Dynamic Stretching When you stretch your muscles with actions, but do not hold any specific poses. Imagine holding out your hand, palm down, and trying to kick it. This is a dynamic stretch. Aerobic Warm-Up Studies show that an aerobic warm-up is best performed prior to your dynamic stretching and workout. Aerobic essentially means a continuous elevated heart rate for a period of time. A five to ten minute warm-up is sufficient, with a 40% increase of your heart rate initially (very easy pace) to a 60% increase toward the end. Too much aerobic warm-up tires you out and provides no additional benefit. A well-designed warm-up starts by increasing body heat and blood flow. Warm muscles and dilated blood vessels pull oxygen from the bloodstream more efficiently and use stored muscle fuel more effectively. [...] To raise the body’s temperature, a warm-up must begin with aerobic activity, usually light jogging. Most coaches and athletes have known this for years. That’s why tennis players run around the court four or five times before a match and marathoners stride in front of the starting line. But many athletes do this portion of their warm-up too intensely or too early. A 2002 study of collegiate volleyball players found that those who’d warmed up and then sat on the bench for 30 minutes had lower backs that were stiffer than they had been before the warm-up. And a number of recent studies have demonstrated that an overly vigorous aerobic warm-up simply makes you tired. Most experts advise starting your warm-up jog at about 40 percent of your maximum heart rate (a very easy pace) and progressing to about 60 percent. The aerobic warm-up should take only 5 to 10 minutes, with a 5-minute recovery. (Sprinters require longer warm-ups, because the loads exerted on their muscles are so extreme.) Then it’s time for the most important and unorthodox part of a proper warm-up regimen, the Spider-Man and its counterparts. Source ... Just spreading the wisdom, TT. Play well!