In Exercises

March 09, 2011

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The right kind of stretching and warm-up can give you an edge. Gus Patel suggests both non-specific and specific movements for use prior to your workout.

Research and experience have established that flexibility and a proper warm-up are essential components of all sporting fitness.

Most programs—whether for a college, semi-pro or pro athlete—begin with a warm-up and stretching routine before progressing to the main training exercises. To stretch or not to stretch within this warm-up has been a controversial question leading to many anecdotal reports supporting both views.

Stretching is often less popular today for a variety of reasons, the main ones being that research on stretching is not as definitive (i.e., physical changes in the body are not apparent from stretching) and has additionally produced mixed reviews.

However, what we do know is that although the outward physical changes resulting from properly warming up and stretching are not as apparent, the benefits of a proper warm-up and stretching program will help to reduce injury and, if done correctly, improve athletic performance.

I believe athletes can benefit from a non-specific and specific warm-up to help improve athletic abilities and reduce injury while simultaneously helping fulfill the need for an increase in range of motion to an appropriate level required in all CrossFit fundamental movements. To help support that belief, I have done some research that will help give some empirical evidence.



9 Comments on “Stretch for Optimum Performance—Before the WOD”


wrote …

Here is a link to a video of Dutch Lowy's warmup:


wrote …

There seems to be a lot of contrary information about stretching available at the moment, including several studies that have found only a minuscule difference between stretch and non-stretch participants.

An interesting article, but there definitely needs to be more research done in this area.


wrote …

Well written, Gus. Is your next degree going to be in journalism?


wrote …

My boxes warm up (which stays on the board) is almost exactly like Dutch's.

Well written article.

My warmup highly depends on the WOD or what I'm doing for that day. That's the only way I know how to attack it and the way I found works for me.

If I was doing Fran say, I'd row 500-750m, dynamic stretching, some bar push presses, bar overhead squats, add 10 pounds and repeat, add RX weight repeat. More dynamic stretching. 3,2,1 GO.

I wouldn't do one Pull-Up. For me, as pullups are my weakest, I want to stay as fresh as possible in that area.

To each is own I guess.


wrote …

Warm up now or pay for it later....When I was young, I would do very little in the way of a warm up. As I got older, muscle pulls etc became more prevalent and now I live by the motto "If you don't have time to warm up, you don't have time to work out!"


wrote …

@ James

Thanks for the comment, and I agree that more research should be done within this area, there is a lot of controversy around stretching within the warm-up vs. not stretching. However, when this is the case, I try to find the highest and most reliable source of empirical evidence when I am researching to form my own observations and conclusions.

There is a lot of information both pro- and con- but from what we can tell at least from the base research done within the article, there seems to be a benefit to doing so. I hope this helps.


wrote …

I don't know man. Warm ups? Seems kind of mental, no? Better to just work out at max effort as soon as possible I say.


replied to comment from jon robichaud

Just because you haven't warmed up doesn't mean you're able to work at max effort.

Take a simple squat for example. If I walk into the gym and immediately go into work sets of squatting, my muscles and central nervous system are unprepared for the load. Taking 15 minutes to do some kind of warmup (usually related to the work being done) will increase muscle coordination, CNS recruitment, stave off injury (cold muscles), and prep the body for heavier work sets.

Just keep in mind there has been plenty of research showing that a warmup with a lot of static stretching reduces power output for explosive movements. So keep the "touch you toes and hold" till after the workout.


wrote …

I am a chiropractor and also an avid CrossFit athlete. The box that I go to recently started doing this warmup with all their athletes before class. I see about 10 athletes as patients of my own and the two most recent ones that have come in to me as new patients have complained of lower back pain after doing the "Prone Scorpion" stretch. There are many articles in medical and chiropractic literature about how the lower back structure can handle flexion and extension movements, per the way the joints are comprised. Excessive, or even any type of rotation is terrible for the lumbar spine. I think something needs to be corrected or simply deleted from this warm-up before there are athletes across the nation doing this warm-up and hurting their lower backs. I have spoken with the owners at my local affiliate and they removed this stretch after only implementing it at the beginning of this week. Thank you!

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