I sat and watched my daughterâ€™s ballet and jazz dance classes
stretch for about Â½ the time of the total class. It became clear to me that
some dance instructors do not attend seminars in sport science about
flexibility and stretching. The types and timing of the stretching was not
time well spent.
Stretching is very important for two big reasons, injury prevention and
flexibility. Stretching before an activity like dance or tennis, one should be
doing dynamic stretches to warm the body up for movement.
Dynamic stretching includes movement with stretching specific muscle
groups. For a tennis player to lie down on the court and go through a
series of long static stretching is not time well spent. Before tennis we
need to warm up the muscles even before stretching them. A light job
around the court until you feel warm or a slight sweat means your
muscles are warm and ready to be stretched. Then using a series of
dynamic stretches to help prevent injury during activity is needed.
The time spent after the activity or tennis comes should include more
stretching but for a different purpose. Stretching after a workout is done
for flexibility. After an activity your muscles are really loose and warm from
all the movement. This is when we want to slow down and do those long
static stretches on the ground or holding onto the fence. Weâ€™re not
concerned about injury prevention after the activity, weâ€™re more
concerned with increasing oneâ€™s flexibility.
The added benefit of stretching after an activity is that it allows the
muscles to clear away the lactic acid in the muscles. This will help prevent
stiffness and soreness the next day after a hard workout.
Dancers and tennis players need to realize the importance of
stretching but also what kind of stretching and when to do it.
Doug Hofer, USPTA March 7, 2006