Stretching FAQs

This month I wanted to supply you with answers to questions I’m often asked on the topic of stretching. The American College of Sports Medicine holds the following positions on this often lengthy topic. View the complete article from the link below.

How long should a stretch be held?

Holding a stretch for 10-30 seconds at the point of tightness or slight discomfort enhances joint range of motion, with little apparent benefit resulting from longer durations. Older persons may realize greater improvements in range of motion with longer durations (30-60 seconds) of stretching. A 20%-75% maximum contraction held for 3-6 seconds followed by 10- to 30-seconds assisted stretch is recommended for PNF techniques (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation).

How many repetitions of stretching exercises are needed?

Repeating each flexibility exercise two to four times is effective, with enhancement of joint range of motion occurring during 3-12 weeks. The goal is to attain 60 seconds of total stretching time per flexibility exercise by adjusting duration and repetitions according to individual needs. For example, 60 seconds of stretch time can be met by two 30-seconds stretches or four 15-seconds stretches.

How often should stretching exercise be performed?

Performing flexibility exercises ≥2-3 days week is effective, but greater gains in joint range of motion are accrued with daily flexibility exercise.

https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2011/07000/Quantity_and_Quality_of_Exercise_for_Developing.26.aspx

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Foam Rolling Exercise Handout

Here’s a great handout that you can use for your regular foam rolling!

The importance of your TVA

Uh, what’s my TVA?

TVA stands for transverse abdominus, one of your deepest abdominal muscles.

Okay. What does it do?

Considered part of you core, this muscle (along with fascia) works as a corset to aid in spinal stabilization.

Why should I care about this muscle any more than the others?

A strong and functional TVA helps the other muscles in the body activate (think nervous system sending the information where it needs to go) and work efficiently (think force production sent to the muscular extremities instead of your bones and joints). It is your foundation for every movement. You can only be as strong and functional as your foundation.

I perform abdominal work all the time, I’m sure I engage it regularly.

Not so fast. Learning how to engage and cue in to your TVA takes practice. This 7-minute video from Beverly Hosford might help. I attended one of Beverly’s anatomy workshops this past summer at the IDEA Fitness Conference. Her video can help you 1) understand how the transverse abdominis works 2) locate the muscle in the body and 3) learn to engage it.

Alright, alright. I get it. What specific exercises can I add to my list?

First and foremost, you must be able to cue in to you TVA before the exercises are effective. The drawing-in maneuver or vacuum exercise (shown in this video) are excellent. Be aware of these techniques when you perform your traditional abdominal exercises to get more bang for your buck!

It’s all about the abs, ’bout the abs…

Over the years and throughout many health clubs, I’ve seen it all. Ab exercises that is. When it comes to exercises for your abdominals, you need to consider the mechanics of that region, muscle fiber recruitment and whether or not the risks of the movement outweigh the benefits. These are a few questions I’m asked regularly:

Is there a secret way to achieve a six-pack?
Can you work your upper and lower abs separately?
Can you work your abs everyday?
Can you lose body fat in your abdominal region by doing ab work?

These and other questions have been researched and answered by Dr. Len Kravitz, Ph.D. In order to give educated answers to questions regarding abdominal exercises, it’s his expertise that I rely on. Now, you too, can read through his resource manual and gain a better understanding of the abdominal region and exercises for it.

What caught your attention in Dr. Kravitz’s manual? Please share.