On Point would like to welcome a brand new segment “Improving Athletic Performance with Ana Maria Vera Mejia.” Mejia, is the founder of Alterego Training & Therapy and is a seasoned trainer/therapist who will be discussing topics relevant to athletes looking to improve their physical conditioning and on court performance. Please welcome Ana to onpointbasketball.com!

Dynamic Stretching Vs. Static Stretching: What is the difference and how can they be used to MAXIMIZE performance?

Pre and post stretching routines have become increasingly popular with basketball athletes of all levels in the recent years. However, being around basketball players ranging from house league to professional, there seems to be either lack of good stretching programs implemented in their training regimen, or a stretching plan that in fact, does not maximize performance during practices, workouts, or during games.

In general, keeping up with a stretching program has shown to have great benefits for basketball players of all ages. For youth, especially boys, keeping up with stretching is very important as usually from 12-17 years old, they will be going through a growth spurt, in which their bones grow too quickly, and the muscles tend to lose flexibility. This not only reduces their overall range of motion and decreased the potential power output of their muscles, but also makes them more susceptible to common injuries such as Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease, Jumper’s Knee, Plantar Fasciitis, and increases the risk of muscle strains, such as the popular hamstring strain.

So what stretches should I do before activity?

Before a workout, a practice or a game, it is essential to commit to a DYNAMIC stretching routine, that should almost become second nature before starting to warm up with sport specific skills such as lay-ups and free-throws. DYNAMIC stretches are active, sport-specific stretches that work through the range of motion of the joints in a controlled manner, aimed at optimizing performance. Some quick examples of this could be, Lunge and Reach, Squats, Crossovers and Walking Toe-Touches. The benefit of these types of stretches, is that they increases the body’s temperature, allowing for the muscles to prepare for activity. In contrast to static stretching, DYNAMIC stretching positively affects power, which basketball players need to sprint and jump; and agility, needed as good footwork and reaction time is essential to beat opponents in runs. Specific to basketball players of all levels, basketball-specific studies have shown that those who do dynamic warm-ups prior to activity actually jump higher! More than just the immediate benefits after stretching, even better and more constant benefits are shown when the stretching regimen is done continuously long-term.

Does this differ from the type of stretching I should do after activity?

Actually yes! When you are getting ready for a game, what you want to do is increase the temperature and prepare your muscles for intense activity, to reduce injury and increase power and agility. For post practice, work-out or game, the type of stretching you want to do will be STATIC. Static stretching involves bringing a limb or joint to the end of the range of motion and holding it in a steady position of slight tension for 15-60 seconds. Doing this type of stretching helps muscle recover faster from delayed onset muscle soreness (also known as DOMS), by increasing oxygen flow into the muscle and nutrition to recover from the intense workouts and games. Doing STATIC stretches after activity also increases its effectiveness in increasing the elasticity of muscles, which long-term can really reduce the number of injuries the athlete sustains. Not only will you recover faster, but by doing this type of stretching throughout the day as well, your body will be more mobile, and you will be able to perform skills more effectively and efficiently than you ever have before!

Is it bad if I use Static Stretching before my practices or games?

Though many of your teammates and maybe even coaches still believe in a static stretching program before activity, this type of stretching actually has the potential to degrade performance if done right before the activity. It can decrease height of vertical jumps, contraction speed of muscles, potentially making you slightly slower on your direction changes, muscle endurance, as well as can negatively affect your balance. Because static stretching does not mimic the movements of basketball, and is done usually laying down or in a generally rested position, it lowers the heart-rate, decreases body temperature, leading to a overall cooling and relaxation of muscles and the nervous system, which does not aid the athletic body in preparation for activity.

Please email comments and topics you would love to learn more about to: Veramejia@live.com

Ana Maria Vera Mejia
Founder of Alterego Training & Therapy

Drew Ebanks