With a couple of almost 3000m Canadian mountains (Mt.Begbie near Revelstoke and Mt Tupper near Roger's Pass) to climb in September, and with the festive season having played havoc with my fitness, I have again made my annual New Year's resolution to improve my fitness.Is static stretching a waste of time? Does static stretching before exercise prevent muscle soreness and injury? Can static stretching beforehand reduce power during a bushwalk?
|Mt Begbie, Revelstoke (© goldenscrambles.ca)|
|Mt Tupper, Rogers Pass (© Selkirk Mountain Experience)|
My usual weekly keep-fit regime involves 3 or 4, 45 - 60 minute walks on rugged and hilly tracks near my home, interspersed with a Pilates class or two, and as I approach a major bushwalk/climb, 1 or 2 bushwalk-specific weight resistance sessions at my local gym. In hot weather, I cool down after my morning walk with a 1 km swim.
While annual gym fees are substantial, cutting back on my wine consumption by a glass a day, more than pays for the cost! This training schedule may seem excessive to some, but I've found that to enjoy a bush walk, and in some cases a 10-12 hour day with a heavy pack, that a high level of fitness is needed. As I get older, it takes more effort to reach and maintain the same level of fitness.
|Training Route, Brownhill (3.83 km)|
As I have been noticing a little calf muscle soreness during these walks, I thought I would investigate if a stretching regime could help. To my surprise, I found that the benefits of stretching were rather controversial.
Researchers Robert Herbert, Ph.D., and Marcos de Noronha, Ph.D. of the University of Sydney conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 10 previously published studies of stretching either before or after athletic activity. They concluded that stretching before exercise doesn't prevent post-exercise muscle soreness. They also found little support for the theory that stretching immediately before exercise can prevent either overuse or acute sports injuries. (When to Stretch - Experts Recommend Static Stretching After Exercise ©2013 About.com. All rights reserved.)Part 2 of this post outlines a bushwalk training session which has been designed for me by a professional trainer and includes a warm up with dynamic stretches, training walk, and a cool down including static stretches.
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