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Do we still need to stretch?

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A study of 600 marathoners shows that those who stretch have an increased risk of injury by 35%. Would stretching useless even dangerous? How do we practice?

Conventionally, Stretching improves muscle and tendon elasticity. They promote the opening of vessels and drainage. They help the sport to realize its joint positions. They participate in relaxation after stress and increase flexibility. They should be best during warm-up and during recovery. Should practice them regularly to maintain the range of motion. Beyond these eternally rehashed dogmas, that is it really? What can we deduce from a rigorous scientific analysis? What does research say?

Stretching: deeds and misdeeds!

You lose elasticity!

Tendons consists of fibers spiral or herringbone. When you stay in stretch position, relax your spring, spread your fiber. A study by WYDRA shows that you earned in length but lost elasticity. During an impulsive movement as a jump or even a running stride walk, you produce a violent traction on a stiffened structure, you may create lesions.

You crush your ships

In one of these research protocols, ALTER highlighted by maintaining a stretching posture, you block any vessels that pass through the muscle. Far from promoting the blood supply, this could disrupt the warm-up and recovery.

You disrupt your coordination.

A suddenly pulled muscle responds by contracting. This is the "stretch reflex". Thus, it avoids the tear and preserves the joint that mobilizes a wrong move. Realizing a prolonged stretching you Inhibit this natural protective reaction. You risk strain or sprain.

You aggravate your aches

At each reception process, the joints are flexed slightly. They carry with them, the muscle membranes. The fibers contract and pull in the other direction to brake the movement and build up elastic energy. At the junction between the fibers and membranes, there is microlesions. Where important, you experience these are the aches. Stretching, pulling in the muscles produce the same effects. This explains the results of the study by Wieman. He asked the athletes to stretch exclusively right thigh during a weight training session. The aches were more important on this side!

You suffer a mechanical stress.

Stretching generate stresses on the chain "muscle / tendon / bone." This tissue stimulation may cause a source of strengthening adaptation. If you overdo it, if you make them inappropriately, you switch to the lesion. The solution: less stretch, stretch better!

You reduce your stiffness, you break your contractures.

The stiffness is defined as the force required to stretch a muscle. At the end of a race meeting, muscle stiffness increases. MAGNUSON shows some gentle stretching help in fine drive, reduce muscle stiffness. But beware, this recovery relaxation is not always obtained. After exercise the muscle is sometimes victim of contracture. In places, due to lack of energy, muscle filaments stick to each other. This is truly a "rigor mortis" ... located. It gives spontaneously when the muscle energy charge. But if just after exercise, you pull on your muscle fibers, they will break ...

You probably improve your flexibility

Maintaining a significant and prolonged tension, you create micro lesions. The muscle will gradually repair itself by creating new muscle segments causing an overall lengthening. However, it makes good scientific sense mechanism has been shown that in animals as a result of prolonged immobilization by plaster! Other studies show that one gets the same results through braking contractions! COMETTI, a renowned fitness coach, think it's mostly better tolerance to the stretching sensation!

You reduce your strength

By relaxing the spiral of tendon fibers, reducing the stiffness of your muscle, you accumulate less elastic energy at each reception stride. You bounce less, push harder. A YOUNG referred has shown. He made 3 groups. One warmed current, the other stretching, the third by performing both. Those who jumped the highest were prepared current monitoring those who had benefited from the race and stretching. Athletes who were content stretching had the worst results.

Stretching: how?

Advice for distance runners

A runner does not need to stretch to warm up. The alternating contraction and relaxation proves ideal to optimize elasticity, open vessels and preserve muscle coordination. Taking care to respect the principles of progressiveness and specificity, it is possible to offer a warm Protocol ... particularly sophisticated. Feel free to follow on a period of 10 to 15 minutes walking, power walking, trotting, jogging and running at expected speed! In short: a gradual acceleration!

A runner does not need to stretch to warming

During recovery, the runner takes risks stretching! After a big source of shredding session by braking and contractures, stretching will aggravate microlesions. This may be a strategy to increase the training load! But it is by no means a process of regeneration! Given the magnitude of his stride, the runner does not have to stretch his muscles. The relaxations are useless. Remember! In issue 3 of "SANTESPORTMAG" Serge Girard, told us that he had traveled 40,000 km running, without injury and without stretch. He spoke of his interest "stiff muscles" to better rebound with every stride.

The runner takes risks by stretching during its return to calm.

The runner can stretch after his weekly recovery jog. This session is neither long nor intense. At the end, muscular micro-lesions are lacking. Some gentle stretching and smoothly promote muscle relaxation and probably optimize regeneration. However, some cycling or swimming would probably be more suited to recharge (see, in this issue: "Run least better Run").

Tips for athletes

If you practice a sport requiring great gestures, preparation for the performance and flexibility are useful.

On the occasion of heating you must gradually increase the range of motion. The progressive use of the specific gesture and acceleration, achieving pendulums or rotations are welcome. These contractions roundtrips generate heat and reduce the viscosity of muscle membranes, they pump the blood, improving tissue elasticity and optimize coordination. Some physiologists, a stretch of 2 to 3 seconds is tolerated if it is followed by a rapid succession of small contractions. Prolonged postures are strongly discouraged.

The relaxations are useful in disciplines imposing movements of large amplitudes.

Ideally, make your flexibility at the end of a very intense workout. Place yourself in stretching position. Wait 5 to 10 seconds as the muscle relaxes and increase the voltage smoothly. After a few seconds repeat the operation until the limit of pain sensation.

Stéphane doctor also gives you information on:

Doctor Stéphane CASCUA. - 17 mai 2010.

Conflicts of interest: the author or authors have no conflicts of interest concerning the data published in this article.


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The Iroman lack of iron, the other sports too!

Doctor Stéphane CASCUA.

Iron is essential to your health and performance. It is a central component of hemoglobin. The latter is contained in red blood cells and gives it color. It is the iron that captures oxygen when blood passes through the lungs. It carries the precious gas to muscles. When they arrived, it drops its cargo which then allows the burning of energy substances and muscle contraction.

When you run or when you jump, your heels hit the ground and the fat pad of the foot of the plant is crushed. It is through many blood vessels. These red blood cells burst and release their hemoglobin. Iron is released into the blood and pass into urine.

Muscle contains a twin sister of hemoglobin, myoglobin. The latter also contains a lot of iron which sets some oxygen. This small local reserve allows starting the contraction before the blood vessels do not provide the necessary complement. When you experience aches, your muscle membranes are victims of micro-fissures. Myoglobin and iron leaves the muscle and gaining the blood. The precious metal is eliminated in the urine.

When you make an effort, the majority of blood flow is directed towards your muscles. There remains very little to the digestive tract and the bladder wall. These organs suffer from lack of oxygen and are shaken with every stride. Small areas are damaged and start to bleed. Red blood cells and iron are lost in the feces and in urine.

You enter the assiduous why athletes often lack iron, especially if they do not take care to concoct "menus and recipes" adapted. Sports are even more concerned since all these iron losses are added the massive elimination of blood during menstruation!

That is why it is good to occasionally perform a blood test to assess the stock in body iron. This levy is necessary when it comes to review a state of fatigue. It unnecessary to dose iron in the blood because the body is able to keep within the limits of normal while the reserves are at their lowest! It is necessary to measure levels of "serum ferritin" because this structure is the storage form of iron.

The bone is strengthened or crack in contact sports

Doctor Stéphane CASCUA.

Each sports movement constitutes a solicitation for the bone structure. At each reception process, the tibia runner undergoes vibratory impacts. Unrolling not, the hiker twists slightly small bone in his foot. Even the body-builders, powerfully contracting its muscles, pulls on his bone.

Each strain injures a little bone of sports. Fortunately, during the rest period, the bone trying to rebuild. If time allows, if they bring him the necessary food, it is repaired! It reconstructs even louder than before as if to prepare for new mechanical attacks. This phenomenon is called by coaches cycle decompensation / overcompensation. This process has been described in many body organs and functions: muscle, stock energy, hormones, etc. It is a key driver of growth.

Thus, it was shown that the well-trained marathoner had stronger bones than sedentary. Indeed, its more dense bone structure, higher in fiber and calcium. In addition, the microscopic architecture of the bone is perfectly oriented along the axis of mechanical stresses.

Indeed, the chemical structure of the bone is comparable to reinforced concrete. The protein network is the steel rods. Calcium is comparable to concrete mired these metal axes. At the hip and pelvis direction of the bone structure is very characteristic. On a radiograph, it is found that the fibers leave the femur, the thigh bone, tilt in, come from hip to withstand the weight of the body resting on the hips. The lines of force from the right leg and left leg meet in the middle of the basin and support each other in the manner of the nave of a church.

Physical activity associated with a sufficiently high protein diet, vitamin D and calcium is a great engine of bone construction. This cocktail is particularly useful to hinge periods of life. During growth, it is necessary to eat 4-5 dairy products every day to build strong bones. It should also move: it is essential to practice a sport requiring the running and jumping at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes. In the absence of impact, bones harden less. It has been shown that a young competitive swimmer had lower bone density than sedentary because he was deprived of gravity during those long hours of pool training. In addition, bone densification stops 25 years. At this age you have made up your bone capital for life!

In adulthood, sport reinforces very hard bone and the amount of calcium necessary for the maintenance of bone is still debated. In case of fracture, the rest of the broken area needed a few weeks to allow to "ensnare" the broken area. In addition, gradually increasing mechanical stress are indispensable to "mechanize" the callus. Again, they help to guide the fabric of the bone in the center of the constraints to prepare him for his mission. An increase in calcium intake in consolidation period is proposed by some doctors without that interest has been really shown.

After menopause, the bone structure is gradually degraded to make the brittle bones is osteoporosis. Ladies, remember, your resistance to hip fracture depends on your diet and your sport for 25 years! If physical activity after menopause can no longer denser bones, reduces the loss of bone tissue. So it is advisable to go see jumping around or jog. It is also good to make the soft gym to maintain bone strength to strength. To make the most of this stimulation, it is again necessary to take 4-5 dairy products daily. It should also go out every day to enjoy the sun and make the vitamin D essential for the absorption and calcium binding. Fresh coordinating sports such as Thai Chi or "balance workshops" have proven effective in reducing the risk of falls and fractures.

If the sporting activity is excessive, the micro-cracks caused by impacts on the bones fail to consolidate over the rest. Rather, these lesions worsen in the next workout. Finally the splits right through bone, it breaks without any violent trauma. It is the stress fracture. In a postmenopausal woman, it was demonstrated that 6 hours of sport load per week may be sufficient to break insidiously bones. Among younger adults, this type of injury is favored by dietary deficiencies and hormonal disorders. Lack of calcium, vitamin D and protein alters the rebuild bone victim of microcracks in the exercise. Insufficiency sex hormones reduces the stimulation microscopic chemical plants be responsible for the synthesis of bone tissue. Functional changes occur when the deep depletion of the body. That kind of burnout is most often diagnosed in women because it causes menstrual irregularities and a cessation of menses. The victim is found in a state of "early menopause". In humans this hormone suffering is more insidious but it exists and its effects on bone density are comparable. The sports overwork cocktail, dietary deficiencies and disappearance of rules typically found in young women anorexic. Faced with a stress fracture, the sports physician must remain vigilant. It should not simply treat a "bone". It has an obligation to support a whole person, he is responsible for seeking overtraining or behavioral disorders.

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