Stretching seems like a standard thing to do before any form of exercise, especially hardcore athletic events like those in the Winter Olympics.
On Tuesday, American luger Kate Hansen was criticised by NBC commentator Duncan Kennedy for her unusual warmup routine of dancing to Beyoncé.
“I would like to see something a little more sport-specific from her,” Kennedy said. “What you see out of the top runners, the real heavy-hitters, is they’re working the start muscles. They’re working the low back. They’re working the arms and shoulders, and getting the power out of them because the start has to be a powerful, explosive movement.”
Stretching works by raising the temperature of your body before more rigorous exercise. Warm muscles are more stretchy. The widely-held belief is that stretching increases flexibility, gives you more strength and power during the activity, and reduces muscle soreness afterward.
But, according to a video released by AsapScience, the benefits of stretching may depend on the activity. Stretching too much can be a bad thing for power sports like speedskating and bobsledding because it may “cause a temporary decrease in muscle strength,” the video says. “The overstretched muscle becomes less responsive and can stay weakened for up to 30 minutes.”
In other words, overstretched muscles are actually less flexible and won’t pack the same amount of power. This is obviously a bigger concern for competitive athletes. In general, warming up your muscles before a workout is a good way to get the blood flowing.
For more on the science of stretching, check out the video below:
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