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SATURDAY STRETCH - Program Introduction

Arnold G. Nelson & Jouko Kokkonen Oct 8, 2015

SATURDAY STRETCH

-- Getting Started --

 

STRETCHING PROGRAMS

The following programs can be prescribed for anyone who is interested in improving flexibility, strength, and strength endurance.  To make changes to any of these areas, you need to be involved in a regular stretching program, preferably as a daily routine or as close to that as possible.  Changes will not come in a day or two but rather after a dedicated effort of several weeks.  You can incorporate these programs with or without any other kind of exercise routine.  According to the latest research, heavy stretching, even without any other exercise activity, can bring about changes in flexibility, strength and muscular endurance. 

As in any other exercise program, progression is an integral part of a successful stretching program.  The Stretching progression should be gradual, going from a lighter load with less time spent on each stretch to a heavier load with more time spent on each stretch.  For the programs outlined in this introduction, you should begin with the initial program, or according to your current level of experience and flexibility.   Generally, working through each level at the recommended speed will result in meaningful and consistent workouts.  After such workouts you will find improved flexibility in the muscles you worked as well as the satisfaction of having done something beneficial.

Intensity is always a critical factor when you want changes and improvements to come from an exercise program.  In a stretching routine, intensity is controlled by the amount of pain associated with the stretch.  Using a pain scale from 0 to 10, initial pain is light (scale of 1 to 3) and usually dissipates as the time of stretching is extended.  Light stretching occurs when you stretch a particular muscle group only to a point where you feel the stretch with an associated light pain.  Moderate stretching (scale of 4 to 6) occurs when you start to feel increased, or “medium, pain in the muscle you’re stretching.  In heavy stretching (scale of 7 to 10), you will initially experience a moderate to heavy pain at the start of the stretch, but this pain slowly dissipates as stretching continues.  Research studies have shown that heavier stretches rather than lighter stretches provide greater improvements in flexibility and strength.  Thus, you are the key to your own success, and how well you are able to monitor stretch intensity and tolerate the pain level determines how quick and large the improvements will be.

Because of the complexity of muscle attachments, many stretching exercises simultaneously affect a variety of muscle groups in the body and stretch the muscle groups around multiple joints.  Thus, a small change in body position can change the nature of a stretch on any particular muscle.  To get the maximal stretching benefit in any muscle, it is helpful to know joint movements that each muscle can do.  Putting the joint through the full range of motion allows for maximal stretching.

You can customize the exercises…, which will allow for numerous stretch combinations.  You are encouraged to experiment with these stretches by following the explanations provided.  Information is also provided to enable you to explore a variety of positions in order to stretch the muscle slightly altering the angles and directions of the various body positions.  Thus, you can adapt the stretching exercises to fit your individual needs and desires.  For example, if you have soreness in only one of the muscles or just a part of the muscle, you can adapt each exercise to stretch that particular muscle.  If the explained stretch or particular body position does not stretch a particular muscle as much as you want it to, then experiment by slightly altering the position.  Keep making alterations in the position until you reach the desired level of stretch (using a pain scale rating).

In the programs that appear in the following section, specific instructions are given relating to the time to hold the stretch and time to rest between each stretch, as well as the number of repetitions you should do.  You should follow these instructions in order to get the benefits described.  For example, if the instructions indicate that you should hold a stretch position for 10 seconds, time (or count out) the stretch to ensure that you hold it for the recommended time.  Also, you should incorporate only two to four heavier stretching days in each week and have a lighter stretching day in between each of the heavier stretching days.

Finally for any stretch involving sitting or lying down, you should do the stretch with a cushion underneath you, such as a carpet of athletic mat.  Cushioning makes the exercises more comfortable to perform.  However, the cushioning should be firm.  Too soft of a cushion will reduce the effectiveness of the stretches.

 

RECOMMENDED PROGRAMS

The following programs are specific stretching recommendations and are based on your initial flexibility.  In addition to following the programs listed, you should follow the general recommendations listed previously.  Stay on each level for two to four weeks before going to the next level.

 

Level 1

  • Hold the stretch position for 5 to 10 seconds.

  • Rest for 5 to 10 seconds between each stretch.

  • Repeat each stretch two times.

  • Use an intensity level on the scale from 1 to 3, with light pain.

  • Duration is 15 to 20 minutes each session.

  • Stretch two or three times per week

Level 2

  • Hold the stretch position for 10 to 15 seconds.

  • Rest for 10 to 15 seconds between each stretch.

  • Repeat each stretch three times.

  • Use an intensity level on the scale from 2 to 4, with light to moderate pain, one or two times per week.

  • Use an intensity level on the scale from 1 to 2, with light to moderate pain, one or two times per week.

  • Duration is 20 to 30 minutes each session.

  • Stretch three or four times per week.

Level 3

  • Hold the stretch position for 15 to 20 seconds.

  • Rest for 15 to 20 seconds between each stretch.

  • Repeat each stretch four times.

  • Use an intensity level on the scale from 4 to 6, with moderate pain, two or three times per week.

  • Use an intensity level on the scale from 1 to 4, two or three times per week.

  • Duration is 30 to 40 minutes each session.

  • Stretch four or five times per week

Level 4

  • Hold the stretch position for 20 to 25 seconds.

  • Rest for 20 to 25 seconds between each stretch.

  • Repeat each stretch five times.

  • Use an intensity level on the scale from 6 to 8, with moderate to heavy pain, two or three times per week.

  • Use an intensity level on the scale from 1 to 6, two or three times per week.

  • Duration is 40 to 50 minutes each session.

  • Stretch four or five times per week

 

Level 1

  • Hold the stretch position for 25 to 30 seconds.

  • Rest for 25 to 30 seconds between each stretch.

  • Repeat each stretch five or six times.

  • Use an intensity level on the scale from 8 to 10, with heavy pain, two or three times per week.

  • Use an intensity level on the scale from 1 to 8, two or three times per week.

  • Duration is 50 to 60 minutes each session.

  • Stretch four or five times per week

 

 

 

Nelson, Arnold G., and Jouko Kokkonen. "Introduction." Stretching Anatomy. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2007. Print.

 

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