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Improving Flexibility

We live in a time of unprecedented possibilities. With cutting-edge scientific advancements at our fingertips, we can heal and augment our bodies’ capabilities faster than ever before. Our experience using whole body vibration training can result in improved self-perception of pain, balance, gait quality and inflammatory markers in less time than most physical sessions on the gym floor and or mat classes.

Stretching while using whole body vibration may help you:

  • Improve your joint range of motion

  • Improve your athletic performance

  • Decrease your risk of injury

Understand why stretching can help and how to stretch correctly.

Benefits of stretching

Over the course of 8-weeks, athletes were randomly split into two groups, one group simply standing on a whole body vibration (wbv) platform, Power Plate specifically, 3 times per week and the other adapting no lifestyle changes. The study indicated that the Power Plate group displayed significant increases in flexibility. WBV was also shown to increase flexibility while not altering explosive strength. Power Plate has been shown to increase flexibility.

Studies about the benefits of stretching have had mixed results. Some research shows that stretching doesn't reduce muscle soreness after exercise, and other studies show that lengthening the muscle and holding the stretch immediately before a sprint may slightly worsen performance.

However, research has shown that stretching can help improve flexibility, and, consequently, the range of motion of your joints.

What is interesting is that most of us are athletes in some way. We play tennis, golf. We ski, we run, do yoga etc.

And we all get tight, and experience pain.

Research shows pretty clearly the difference between muscles that use Power Plate and those that don't, according to

Stretching also increases blood flow to the muscle. You may learn to enjoy the ritual of stretching before or after performing your workout.

Stretching essentials

Before you plunge into stretching, make sure you do it safely and effectively. While you can stretch anytime, anywhere, proper technique is key. Stretching incorrectly can actually do more harm than good.

Use these tips to keep stretching safe:

  • Stretching should not be considered a warmup. You may hurt yourself if you stretch cold muscles. Before stretching, warm up with light walking, jogging or biking at low intensity for five to 10 minutes. Even better, stretch after your workout when your muscles are warm. Consider skipping stretching before an intense activity, such as sprinting or track and field activities. Some research suggests that pre-event stretching may actually decrease performance. Research has also shown that stretching immediately before an event weakens hamstring strength. Also, try performing a "dynamic warmup." A dynamic warmup involves performing movements similar to those in your sport or physical activity at a low level, then gradually increasing the speed and intensity as you warm up.

  • Focus on symmetry. Everyone's genetics for flexibility are a bit different. Rather than striving for the flexibility of a dancer or gymnast, focus on having equal flexibility side to side (especially if you have a history of a previous injury). Flexibility that is not equal on both sides may be a risk factor for injury.

  • Major muscle groups are what should be focused on. Concentrate your stretches on major muscle groups such as your calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders. Make sure that you stretch both sides. Also stretch muscles and joints that you routinely use.

  • No bouncing. Stretch in a smooth movement, without bouncing. Bouncing as you stretch can injure your muscle and actually contribute to muscle tightness.

  • Stretches should be held. Breathe normally and hold each stretch for about 30 seconds; in problem areas, you may need to hold for around 60 seconds. Coordinating your stretches with whole body vibration, you can set the timer to match the time frame stretches are held.

  • Focus should not be on pain. Whole Body Vibration can actually relax the body so no pain is incurred. Expect to feel tension while you're stretching, not pain. If it hurts, you've pushed too far. Back off to the point where you don't feel any pain, then hold the stretch.

  • Make stretches sport specific. Some evidence suggests that it's helpful to do stretches involving the muscles used most in your sport or activity. If you play soccer, for instance, stretch your hamstrings as you're more vulnerable to hamstring strains.

  • Be consistent with your stretching. Stretching can be time-consuming. But you can achieve the most benefits by stretching regularly, at least two to three times a week. You may see that you even become very attached to your stretch practice. Skipping regular stretching means you risk losing the potential benefits. For instance, if stretching helped you increase your range of motion, your range of motion may decrease again if you stop stretching.

  • Bring movement into your stretching. Whole body vibration will assist with moving into your stretching. Data suggests that incorporating whole body vibration as a recovery/regeneration tool may be effective for reducing the pain of muscle soreness and tightness after strenuous training. Always use caution moving slowly before doing “dynamic stretching” such as martial arts kicks. Picking up speed should always be gradual.

Know when to exercise caution

If you have a chronic condition or an injury, you might need to adjust your stretching techniques. For example, if you already have a strained muscle, stretching it may cause further harm. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about the most appropriate way to stretch if you have any health concerns.

Also remember that stretching doesn't mean you can't get injured. Stretching, for instance, won't prevent an overuse injury.

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