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Quite a Stretch

For those of you who have attended one of our volleyball clinics, you will know that we discuss what a waste of time stretching is during practice.  I know, this is a really tough concept to wrap your head around.  How can stretching be a waste of time?  Below is a well-written article that is sure to stir the pot.  I have a funny suspicion that regardless of the evidence, this will continue to be an uphill battle for a lot of folks coaching volleyball.  Enjoy!

Quite a Stretch

9,000 words, published 2000, updated Aug 1st, 2012 by Paul Ingraham, Vancouver, Canada

Stretching is a comfortable and reassuring ritual for many people — it’s simple, it feels good, and it seems to promise easy benefits. For countless more, athletes and couch potatoes alike, stretching weighs on their conscience — one more thing they are supposed to find the time to do. Can all these people be barking up the wrong tree? Sure they can! And they are.

I stretch regularly. My personal favorites: hamstrings, hip flexors, neck, chest, lumbar muscles, and the deep gluteal muscles. But I don’t believe it’s doing much for me. I am as stiff and inflexible as I have ever been!

Why is it that many Kenyans don’t stretch? Why was legendary coach Arthur Lydiard not a fan of stretching? Why does Galloway say, “In my experience runners who stretch are injured more often, and when they stop stretching, the injuries often go away”?

— Bob Cooper, Runner’s World Magazine1

What a sensible article, and about time somebody exploded the stretching myth! I remember as a schoolboy in South Africa forty years ago always being told to run slowly to warm up for our various rugby, cricket, and soccer games — nobody ever told us to stretch, and over the past ten or so years I’ve been puzzled to see this come in as dogma. As a runner of marathons for years and a GP with injured patients, I’ve never been able to figure out how on earth stretching the heck out of muscles, ligaments, and nerves could (a) warm them up or (b) do the slightest bit of good, and have sometimes been given “the jaundiced eye” when I’ve suggested such to my patients.

— Peter Houghton, MD, Vancouver (reader feedback)

I am a soccer referee, and mostly by happy accident began substituting what you call “mobilizing” for various stretches prior to my matches, and I find this does an excellent job of stimulating the muscles, whereas after only stretching I still seem to be tight for the first several minutes. Then I read this article, which corroborates what I have found in practice!

— Carlos Di Stefano, soccer referee (reader feedback)

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