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Friday, February 8, 2013

Stretching before an activity lowers muscle strength.

by Jawad Bisharat

The information below can be applied to nearly every sport. If you have not followed such a routine in the past just wait and feel the difference.


Have you ever stepped onto the court or the field early in a game and found that you had a hard time finding your legs?

It is common for many people to arrive at the court just before the starting time, stretch for a minute, and get right into the playing. As you might have determined this is not nearly enough to properly prepare the body for the quick starts, stops, acceleration, and movement at maximum speed. These movements, which are so important to success on the tennis court MUST be worked on before your game, if you want to be really ready to play.

The first mistake that most athletes make is static stretching before they play. Most people think that stretching and holding the stretch for a period of time will loosen you up and get your muscles ready to perform. It actually does the opposite. Most of the recent research on pre-competition stretching demonstrates that there is a loss of anywhere from 4-12% of your power and strength.

Yes, you read that right, everything you learned in 7th grade gym class is wrong. Stretching cold muscles will cause a decrease in your power and strength due to the tearing of the cold muscle that occurs when stretched.

So the question is, Why would you do something right before a game that might slow you down? Unfortunately, most people just don't know better, or they may have been given bad advice.

So what can you do to prepare for a match.

You can achieve pro-style pre-game warm-up with little or no equipment, and you can do it just about anywhere. This warm-up will take approximately 15-20 minutes to perform, so make sure you get to the court on time to complete it. If you don't have 15-20 minutes just do a few. Even 5-10 minutes will make a big difference since the key is to warm up the muscle first.

1. Jog or skip rope for five minutes - this provides the body with a good overall warm-up, raising core temperature.

2. Walking lunges - two lengths of 15-20 yards provides dynamic stretch to the hips and knees.

3. Lateral crossover lunges - two lengths of 10-15 yards - provides dynamic stretch to the rotators in the hip.

4. Reverse hip extension with toe-touch walk - two lengths of 10-15 yards - provides dynamic stretch to the hamstrings, glutes and lower back.

5. Power skipping - four lengths of 20 yards - provides explosive challenge to the hips and glutes

6. Short sprints - 5- 10-yard sprints - provide a speed stimulus to the brain.

7. Lateral line hops - two sets of 20 - jump back and forth over a field line. Provides explosive stimulus to the body.

8. Tuck jump - two sets of 10. Jump straight up in the air, bring your knees to the chest, explode back off the ground as quick as you can.

9. Lateral bounds - two sets of 16-foot contacts. This is like skating in place, moving laterally, back and forth as fast as you can.

Numbers 1-4 should be done consecutively with no rest. Numbers 5-9 should have 20-30 seconds rest between each set.

Try this routine before your next match, and you will feel the power when you step on the court.
This will allow you to play hard from start to finish!

Here is a video showing a few examples of dynamic stretching:
Some information for blog provided by
Lorne Goldenberg BPE, CSCS, PFLC

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