Stretching Guidelines Audio and Safe Stretching Tips
Learn these safe stretching tips to make sure you stretch right and avoid injury.
by Brad Walker | First Published February 19, 2007 | Updated September 14, 2017
Stretching and flexibility training are key components to a well-rounded fitness program. Good flexibility helps to prevent injury, improve performance, and keep you feeling loose and supple.
In this free audio presentation titled, Stretching Guidelines, you’ll get safe stretching tips to help you get the most out of your time spent stretching.
If you’re looking to improve your sporting performance, or just minimize injuries, it is important to follow the information in this audio. In addition, adding a few simple stretches to your fitness program will also help. To get started on a safe and effective stretching routine that’s just right for you, check out the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility.
Read the Stretching Guidelines Transcript
Samantha: Hey, it’s Samantha here with another audio coaching session with the 100% Club. My guest today is an internationally-recognized stretching and sports injury consultant with over 20 years of practical experience in the health and fitness industry. He is a health science graduate of the University of New England and has post-graduate accreditation’s in athletics, swimming and triathlon coaching. He has worked with elite-level and world champion athletes and lectures for Sports Medicine Australia on injury prevention. He has written several health and exercise books including the international best seller the Stretching Handbook and has recently released two new titles: The Anatomy of Stretching and The Anatomy of Sports Injuries. His stretching and sports injury articles have been published in numerous health and fitness magazines and extensively on-line at sites such as about.com, atheletes.com and bodybuilding.com. Please help me welcome Brad Walker to the 100% Club. Brad, how are you, today?
Brad: I’m very well, Samantha. Thank you.
Samantha: Great, great. Well, Brad, you have so much experience. We’re talking flexibility today. You’ve been in the health and fitness industry for over 20 years. Why the focus on flexibility?
Brad: About 20 years ago, I was working as an assistant coach for a group of triathletes. And one of the great things about this group is that we not only had triathletes, but we also had a few other athletes from a number of other different sports. And it was a really diverse group of people we were working with, with roller skaters, squash players, we were working with motorcycle racers and part of my job as the assistant coach there was to work on injury prevention and injury management. One of the techniques we were using was a lot of flexibility training. I really got into the stretching and flexibility side of things because I saw some really, really great results from working with some of those athletes. And while flexibility was only one part of my role there, I just found it really fascinating and it was an area that was quite neglected 20 years ago. So I sort of took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about flexibility, learn the different types of stretching and how to apply it. And then having the opportunity to work with so many athletes, I was able to experiment with different ideas and when new ideas and new research was released, I was able to use that on the athletes and find what worked and what didn’t work. And it’s just grown from there.
Samantha: You had mentioned just that there are different types of flexibility, and I want to talk a little bit about that because a lot of people are, talk about static and then a static warm up or a dynamic warm up in terms of flexibility, but are there different types of flexibility and why is it important to understand each type?
Brad: Yes, there certainly is. When it comes to stretching, there’s a number of different ways that you can stretch and the important thing to realize is that each different type has its own set of advantages and disadvantages and its own unique sort of ways to use and to help those athletes and it’s really important that you know which type of stretching to use for what circumstance. Just like there’s different ways to strength train, there’s different ways to use flexibility in different types of stretching. And not all types of stretching are suitable for all situations. For example, there’s a lot of talk at the moment about static stretching being ineffective prior to explosive type activities and power-based activities. So in that circumstance, you’d use more dynamic type flexibility. Now that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with static stretching. Static stretching is great for a particular purpose. But it’s very important that you know when to use static stretching and who to use static stretching on. Another example is with injury rehabilitation. There are certain types of stretching that are more beneficial for injury rehabilitation. So it’s important that you know how to use each type, it’s important that you know the advantages of each type and when to use them.
Samantha: So it sounds like you’re saying it depends really on what kind of sport the athlete is participating in. Is that correct?
Brad: That certainly plays a big effect. I mean, there’s a number of things to take into account when you’re designing a flexibility training program for an individual. You, firstly, need to look at the individual and take a look at the goals that they want to achieve, and that includes having a look at the particular sport they’re playing, the type of activity they’re involved in. For example, someone involved in an explosive or power-based sport like sprinting, for example, well, they need more of the dynamic and explosive type of flexibility training. It doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t do static stretching; it certainly is very important for sprinting, as well. So, from that point of view, you need to sort of target the type of stretching with the individual. And then you also need to look at things like: do they have any injuries? Do they have any past injuries that they need to be aware of? Do they have any limitations in their flexibility? Because it’s important to look for those limitations that may cause injuries down the track.
Samantha: And could you expand a little bit on maybe what limitations somebody would either see as a coach or feel as an athlete?
Brad: Just like you have strength imbalances within an athlete and you would design a strength training program to compensate for those imbalances. Or you would design a program that would work on an individual’s weaknesses so that you try to bring some sort of balance to the body. Because imbalances are one of the things that can lead to injury, so it’s important to identify those limiting factors and work on those. It’s the same with stretching and flexibility. You need to look at the areas that are important for that particular person and the particular sport that they’re doing, and then design a program that focuses on those limitations. So that’s where some flexibility testing would come into play and you would look at the differences in flexibility from an opposing muscle point-of-view. So, for example, a common flexibility imbalance for runners, particularly, would be strong, quite flexible quadriceps, but weak, tight hamstrings. And it’s that imbalance between the strong quadriceps in the front of the legs and the weak, tight hamstrings in the back of the legs that can lead to strain and tear type injuries.
Samantha: So, again, it sounds like it runs the gamut depending on what kind of sport you’re in. Let’s say you’re just an athlete that participates in a number of different sports – nothing on the professional level. Is there anything you recommend that that type of person do every day just to either get flexible or help maintain their flexibility?
Brad: It’s important to look at flexibility in the same way that you’d look at strength training, for example. So it’s not necessarily that you do flexibility training every day. It is important from a general activity point of view is that you do keep active each day. Our lifestyles today tend to be quite sedentary and we tend to spend a lot of time sitting and stationery, so it is important to keep active on a daily basis, just to keep the blood flowing and to keep the muscles working so that they don’t become tight and atrophy. So, from a daily point of view. And from a flexibility point of view, it’s important to look at doing some stretches at least every couple of days. And you don’t necessarily have to do stretches for the entire body. I keep coming back to the strength example. You don’t go into the gym and try and do a workout that covers every major muscle group in the body. And it’s the same with flexibility. You don’t have to do stretches for every muscle in the body. It’s much more effective to pick a particular area to work on each day or every second day. For example, you may, just like you do in the gym, you may work on your shoulders and chest for one day and you may do four or five different flexibility exercises or different stretches for the chest and shoulders. And then another day you might work on the hamstrings and the calves. And on another day, your core and your hips and so forth.
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If you’d like to be able to bend, reach and turn without restriction or discomfort, all the stretches you need are right here.
You'll get 135 clear photographs and 44 video demonstrations of unique stretching exercises for every major muscle group in your body. The DVD includes 3 customized stretching routines (8 minutes each) for the Upper Body; the Lower Body; and the Neck, Back & Core. While the Handbook will show you, step-by-step, how to perform each stretch correctly and safely.
Get back to the activities you love. Whether it’s enjoying your favorite sport, or walking the dog, or playing with the grand kids. Imagine getting out of bed in the morning with a spring in your step. Or being able to work in the garden without “paying-for-it” the next day.
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Samantha: Yeah, and that’s a good point, because a lot of us were taught when we were first exposed to flexibility that, oh, you’ve got to do this every day if you want to stay limber and stay loose. I think it’s an important point that you’re making is that no, you don’t have to cover everything every day. You can take your body, and just like you would do a strength training routine, break it down so that you’re really targeting and covering those areas.
Brad: Yeah, that’s exactly right. There’s actually a lot of similarities between strength training and flexibility training and, unfortunately, there’s still a lot of old myths that go with flexibility and stretching. So, we’re just starting to come out of those old myths and we’re starting to look at flexibility with a little more of a balanced view. If anyone’s been in the health and fitness industry for some time, they’ll probably remember a time, sort of 20 to 25 years ago when strength training was quite controversial, when there was every few months, there seemed to be a different opinion on whether you should or shouldn’t strength train or how to strength train. But now we have a more balanced view and we sort of look at strength training as a great compliment to athletic training and we look at it from a more mature view. And I think we’re getting there with flexibility. We’ve still got a few sort of old myths hanging around, but I think as we progress, we’ll start to look at flexibility training in a very similar way to how we look at strength training and we’ll start to design flexibility programs that are very specific to the individual, that are very specific in how they’re applied. We’ll use a whole range of different types of stretching instead of just saying that static stretching is the best and that’s the only thing you should do or dynamic stretching is now the best type of stretching and you can forget about all the other types of stretching. We’ll be able to look at it from a more mature, balanced view and we’ll be able to use it more effectively. And that’s obviously a good thing for all athletes.
Samantha: Yes, that’s an excellent thing. And we’re talking about giving people the best information so let’s debunk some of those myths. What are like the top two things that really get under your skin?
Brad: Firstly, the idea that one type of stretching is better than all other types of stretching. A few years ago, actually probably about ten years ago, there were a few studies coming out saying that static stretching wasn’t effective before exercise, and to an extent, that’s true. The problem was is that a lot of people took that to mean that static stretching was no good altogether. So you had a lot of people running around saying, “Don’t do static stretching anymore. Static stretching is bad. And you should only do dynamic stretching.” Well, that’s certainly not the case and, like I was saying before, we need to look at it in a more balanced view. We need to realize that each type of stretching has its own advantages and disadvantages and there’s no best type of stretching. There’s a few marketing type things going on at the moment, focusing on a particular type of stretching saying, “This is the new way to stretch or the best way to stretch.” And it’s just not the case. All different types of stretching have their own advantages and the key is how to use or when to use each different type. So that’s definitely my first myth that sort of gets me going. And probably the other thing is that, like we talked before, is that you don’t need to do flexibility training every day; you don’t need to stretch every muscle group whenever you go to do some stretching. Yes, they’re probably the two things at the moment that sort of get me going.
Samantha: OK, and you know, Brad has, like I said in his intro, he is a best-selling author. Two of the greatest books that anybody can pick up – The Anatomy of Stretching and The Anatomy of Sports Injuries. What really made you want to write those books?
Brad: What I wanted to do is, I wanted to put together a book that the average athlete could use. There’s a lot of textbooks on the market from an anatomy point of view. Plenty of those sort of 800, 900 page big text books that are quite detailed. And besides those there’s not much in-between, you know. If you go, then there’s just the normal sort of books on stretching and flexibility and sports injury. So I wanted to sort of write a book that was in-between, so it still presented enough anatomy and physiology so people could sort of understand what was happening when they were injured or understand what was happening when they were stretching, but it wasn’t so technical and so in depth that it was sort of over the heads of most people. So the books are targeted towards your average athlete or sports person who just wants to get a deeper understanding of how to treat their own injuries and how to become a better athlete.
Samantha: And Brad has been on numerous websites. Brad, you know we’ve talked about a lot of different aspects of flexibility today. You have a bunch of stuff on line. Where can people go to get more information and how can they contact you with questions?
Brad: I own a company called The Stretching Institute and we have a website that has a heap of free information on it. The website address is thestretchinginstitute.com, so you can certainly go there. We have quite a large article archive, there’s a couple of hundred articles in there on a whole range of stretching and flexibility topics and a whole range of sports injury topics. So if you do have a sports injury and want some advice on how to treat it or how to prevent it, there’s heaps and heaps of information there. So people can go directly to our website and if they do want to contact us by phone or address or e-mail, then all the contact information is there. All you need to do is click on the “Contact Us” link and you’ll get all the contact details you need.
Samantha: That’s great. And I will also be having Brad’s information on the 100% Club’s site. We want to thank you, Brad, very much for your time today. Brad is really, really busy. And, you know the 100% Club is all about providing the best information from the best experts in the field. So I hope everybody has enjoyed what Brad has had to say today and take all the information that he’s given you and go out and get busy, because you can perform 100%. Thanks a lot, Brad. We’ll be in touch soon.
Brad: Thank you, Samantha.
About the Author: Brad is often referred to as the "Stretch Coach" and has even been called the Stretching Guru. Magazines such as Runners World, Bicycling, Triathlete, Swimming & Fitness, and Triathlon Sports have all featured his work. Amazon has listed his books on five Best-Seller lists. Google cites over 100,000 references to him and his work on the internet. And satisfied customers from 122 countries have sent 100's of testimonials. If you want to know about stretching, flexibility or sports injury management, Brad Walker is the go-to-guy.