Warm Up More Productive Than Stretching to Avoid Injuries

Warm up More Productive Than Stretching-

I’ve read studies on the topic of stretching for several decades and the consistent evidence is as Dr. Mirkin presents it (below).

Every opportunity I get to work with competitive dogs is an opportunity to reeducate the human clients about sport training and competition. People in the pet competition world often promote ball stretching as an acceptable form of pre-competition warm up or exercise.

Ball stretching before an event is more destructive than helpful. Coming out of a crate and trotting around just a short bit is not enough of a warm up prior to competition. Dogs should do better in events with at least a quarter-mile slow jog warm up and then a few sprints. This would also be beneficial prior to training drills as well. Just the basics…

The article below comes from Dr. Gabe Mirkin’s Fitness and Health e-Zine
April 7, 2013

Stretching Before Exercising Provides Only Flexibility

Whenever I see someone stretching before running, cycling, tennis, swimming, or any other sport, I worry that the person doesn’t know much about training.

Exercise First and Then Stretch

Stretching Before Exercise Only Weakens Muscles:

Two recent studies show that stretching before competition and training weakens muscles. Stretching prevents you from lifting your heaviest weights or running your fastest miles. It limits how high you can jump, and how fast you can run (The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. April, 2013; The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, April, 2013).

Stretching weakens muscles by almost 5.5 percent. The longer you hold the stretch, the more strength you lose. Holding a stretch for more than 90 seconds markedly reduces strength in that muscle. Stretching reduces power: how hard you can hit a baseball or tennis ball, how fast you can swim, run or pedal, Stretching also does not prevent next-day muscle soreness, and it does not prevent injuries. On the other hand, warming up helps to prevent injuries and helps you to run faster and lift heavier.

Rudi Stretching Naturally After Exercise
Rudi the Brittany Spaniel in Rehab After Hip Surgery, FHO, Femoral Head Osteotomy. He’s Doing Natural Stretching AFTER exercise, and NOT Doing Forced Range of Motion Work by His Mom Owner

 

How Muscles Move Your Body:

Every muscle in your body is made up of thousands of individual fibers. Each fiber is composed of sarcomeres, repeated similar blocks, lined end-to-end to form the rope-like fibers. Each sarcomere touches the sarcomere next to it at the Z line. Muscles move your body by contracting, a shortening of each muscle fiber. Muscles do not shorten (contract) equally throughout their lengths. Muscles contract only at each of thousands of Z lines. It is the cumulative shortening of thousands of Z lines that shorten fibers to make muscles contract and move your body.

How Stretching Saps Strength:

When you stretch a muscle, you pull on the muscle fibers and stretch apart each fiber at the thousands of Z lines. This damage occurs only at the Z lines throughout the length of the muscle fiber, to weaken the entire muscle.

Prolonged Stretching Limits the Ability of Muscles to Store Energy:

Muscles are like rubber bands. They stretch and contract with each muscle movement. This constant stretching and contracting stores energy. For example, when you run, you land on your foot and the muscle stops contracting suddenly.

The force of your foot striking the ground is stored in your muscles and tendons and this energy is released immediately to drive you forward. Your foot hits the ground with a force equal to three times your body weight when you run at a pace of six minutes per mile. Up to 70 percent of the force of your foot strike is stored in your Achilles and other tendons. This energy is released by your muscles and tendons to drive you forward for your next step.

Stretching decreases the amount of energy you can store in muscles and tendons and therefore weakens you and you have less stored energy to drive you forward, so you have to slow down.

Stretching Saps Speed and Endurance:

Elite college sprinters were timed in 20 meter sprints, with and without prior multiple 30-second stretches of their leg muscles. Both active and passive stretching slowed them down (Journal of Sports Science, May 2005).

Stretching Does Not Prevent Next Day Muscle Soreness:

A review of 12 studies published over the last 25 years shows that stretching does not prevent muscle soreness that occurs 8 to 24 hours after you exercise vigorously (The British Journal of Sports Medicine, December 2011; 45:15 1249-1250). Researchers in Australia reviewed five studies, involving 77 subjects, to show that stretching does not prevent next-day muscle soreness. (British Medical Journal. December 2007; 325:468-70 and 451-2).

Stretching Does Not Prevent Injuries:

A review of the scientific literature shows that there is no good evidence that stretching prevents sports injuries (Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. March 2005). Muscles and tendons tear when the force applied to them is greater than their inherent strength, so anything that makes a muscle stronger helps to prevent injuries. Strengthening muscles helps prevent muscle and tendon tears, but stretching does not make muscles stronger. This review showed that stretching does not prevent shin splints, bone stress fractures, sprains, strains or other arm and leg injuries.

 

Original Post August 3, 2014. Updated February 19, 2018

Quality of Life of Obese Dogs Improves –

Quality of Life of Obese Dogs Improves When They Lose Weight –

This is recent research conducted in the UK, where they estimate 1/3 of the dog population is obese. Study conducted by Waltham/Royal Canin.

Feb. 21, 2012 –

Researchers at the University of Liverpool have found that obese dogs that lose weight have an improved quality of life compared to those that don’t.

A study of 50 overweight dogs, comprising a mix of breeds and genders was undertaken by scientists at the University in collaboration with the University of Glasgow, Royal Canin and the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition.

How?

Owners completed a questionnaire to decide the health-related quality of life of their dog prior to weight loss. A follow-up questionnaire was completed by the owners of 30 dogs that successfully completed the weight loss programme, enabling changes in quality of life to be assessed.

A range of life quality factors were scored, including vitality, emotional disturbance, and pain. Quality of life of dogs which succeeded with their weight loss programme was also compared with those dogs that failed to lose weight successfully.

Results –

The results showed that quality of life improved in the dogs that had successfully lost weight. In particular, their vitality scores increased and the score for emotional disturbance and pain decreased. Moreover, the more body fat that the dog lost, the greater the improvement in vitality.

The research also found that dogs that failed to complete their weight loss programme had worse quality of life at the outset than those successfully losing weight, most notably worse vitality and greater emotional disturbance.

Dr Alex German, Director of the Royal Canin Weight Management Clinic at the University, said: “Obesity is a risk for many dogs, affecting not only their health but also their quality of life. This research indicates that weight loss can play an important role in keeping your dog both healthy and happy.”

Strategies for Combating Obesity –

Dr Penelope Morris, from the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, added: “Strategies for combating obesity and keeping dogs fit and healthy include portion control, increased exercise, and diets specifically formulated for overweight pets.”

Established in 2004, the Royal Canin Weight Management Clinic at the University’s Small Animal Hospital, UK is the world’s first animal weight management referral clinic. It was set up to help tackle and prevent weight problems in animals such as dogs and cats.

Veterinary surgeons from any general practice in the UK can refer overweight animals to the clinic. The patients receive a thorough medical examination. Then they receive a specific dietary plan and exercise regimen to follow over several weeks.

Taken from ScienceDaily.com

Thoughts to Ponder –

The results showed that quality of life improved in the dogs that had successfully lost weight. In particular vitality scores increased and the score for emotional disturbance and pain decreased. Moreover, the more body fat that the dog lost, the greater the improvement in vitality.

And, interestingly, the study notes this: “The research also found that dogs that failed to complete their weight loss programme had worse quality of life at the outset than those successfully losing weight, most notably worse vitality and greater emotional disturbance.” …sort of as if the dogs failed the program and not that the owners were partners in this endeavor.

The dogs didn’t fail to complete the program, in reality. The study finding here denotes the close connection and potential issues within the human/animal psychology bond.

Pet Moods –

Lizzie the Golden is a lean and fit elderly dog in this photo. Calvin is working on becoming a dirigible, and he would eat until he passed out if someone let him!

If the lower-vitality dogs came into the study with possible lower quality of life, then I recommend evaluation of the home life of the human, too. Our pets reflect our moods. You may also look for mood changes in a pet to alert you to possible mood changes in their people!

The failed dogs notably had “worse quality of life at the outset” than the ones who ended up succeeding. Most compromised were their vitality and emotional status. We definitely pass our moods, demeanor, and worry onto our animals. Breathe peacefully with your pets 🙂

Contact me if you need a progressive and defined program to follow in order to lose fat and build supportive muscle. Or if you think you are dragging your pet into a dark mood abyss due to lifestyle changes and difficulties.

 

(Published February, 2012. Updated April 19, 2018)