How to: say goodbye to training ‘gymjuries’

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Almost half of your clients have injured themselves training – according to Hayward Baker – and a lot of it’s down to not staying supple. Give your clients the skills to exercise safely and avoid ‘gymjuries’ that could keep them out of your training sessions, with a quick look at the science of stretching.

How does stretching prevent injury?

Imagine a cold elastic band – put enough strain on it and it’ll snap. Stretching your muscles helps to lengthen them, making them more pliable and able to withstand more strain.

What are the main types of stretching?

Dynamic stretching: this kind of stretching is progressive, which means the range of motion increases with each stretch. Put simply, imagine you’re warming up for a football game. You might do ten leg swings at waist height, then ten at chest height and – if you’re really flexible – you might do ten at head height.

This lengthens the muscles gradually over a series of movements, warms them up and prepares them to work. Adapt this for the gym by doing the first set of any movement with the lowest possible weight.

Static stretching: this kind of work involves holding a stretch for a period of time, say 15 seconds, just at the point where it is a challenge – the edge of comfort. The stretch is then released and repeated, stretching slightly further each time.

The recommendation is to do this kind of stretching after training, when it helps to combat lactic acid build up and reduce recovery time.

Can deep tissue massage help?

If your clients are suffering from delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), massage can help to iron out those kinks. If you don’t have a sports masseuse on hand, then foam rollers are a great way of targeting lower-body and back DOMS, and they come in a range of shapes and sizes. Regular stretching is a proven way to prevent tightness and speed up recovery after training – and costs a lot less than a deep tissue sports massage!

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