Sports injuries occur far too frequently. Unfortunately, most athletes today are adding to their risk of injury rather than reducing their risk of injury. Many people believe injuries occur because muscles are tight; while this is true many people perform stretching to make the muscles less tight.
But the stretching done today by athletes is only adding to the risk of injury. Many reasons cause injury in sports, but the number one reason injuries occur is because the athlete is not able to absorb force.
The typical athlete will stretch either before, during, or after training or a game in order to stay flexible and "prevent" injury. But typical stretching today follows the guidelines of static stretching where the muscle is lengthened to a certain level and kept lengthened for an extended period of time.
Unless the muscle being stretched is contracting, only the tendons and ligaments are being stretched. When the tendons and ligaments are being stretched they become much weaker and thus more susceptible to injury.
With most of the sports injuries occurring today being tendon and ligament related, could typical stretching be a cause? The answer is yes if the muscles are not properly able to absorb force.
When an athlete runs, thousands of pounds of force are applied with each step, so the body needs to be able to absorb all of that power. But if the muscles cannot handle the extreme levels of force, the tendons and ligaments must be called on. Since the tendons and ligaments are significantly weaker than muscles, injuries then occur more frequently to the tendons and ligaments.
The goal must be to get the muscles to be able to absorb the force as to not impact the tendons and ligaments.
The athlete with long, loose, and flexible muscles will not only be able to absorb more force (less injuries) than the tighter athlete but will also be able to function better, thus be a better athlete. Stretching the proper way will allow the athlete to elongate the muscles. Elongating the muscles will allow the athlete to absorb more force because elongated muscles are a lot stronger than short and tight muscles and also can handle more force through larger ranges of motion.
This elongating of the muscles can be done by stretching contracted muscles. Unless the muscle is being contracted it is not capable of being stretched. Rather than stretching tendons and ligaments which ultimately results in weaker tendons and ligaments, the athlete will be elongating the muscle properly which will allow all the impact to be taken in by the muscles.
This will undoubtedly prevent the large number of tendon and ligament injuries seen today. The elongated muscles will be able to properly absorb the forces of athletic movements which will allow the tendons and ligaments to not be impacted.
During a typical hamstring stretch the athlete will sit on the ground and place their feet in front of their body. The athlete then will attempt to touch the toes with the goal of stretching the hamstrings.
During typical stretching, the hamstrings will not be contracted, thus they will not be stretched, and rather the tendons and ligaments that connect muscles to bones will be getting weaker.
If the athlete drives the heels into the ground during this stretch the hamstrings will then be contracting. With the hamstrings being contracted, the hamstrings will then be elongated and the tendons and ligaments will go un-impacted.
Not only will this new type of stretching prevent injury from occurring but will also speed up recovery time significantly.
After an injury has occurred, the surrounding muscles are very tight. If the athlete stretches these muscles properly, the body will then go back to absorbing force correctly which will allow the injury to heal much quicker.
This stretching method can be applied to any stretch of any muscle as long as the muscle intended to be stretched is elongated.