Dynamic Stretching: What Pilates and Football Have in Common

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal, WHY A DALLAS UPSET ISN’T A STRETCH (January 9, 2015), described a surprisingly archaic attitude toward stretching in the NFL. It’s one of the only activities left up to the individual player to devise on their own. The Dallas Cowboys see it differently. According to their coach Jason Garett, dynamic stretching is the preferred method for its players over static stretching.  Static stretching involves holding a position to stretch a muscle, whereas dynamic stretching involves continuous movement to facilitate a stretch. (That’s one reason why Charlene and I have been using dynamic stretching for the past 15 years.) Recent research confirms the effectiveness of dynamic stretching and what Joe Pilates understood from the beginning. Movement through the range of motion of a joint or joints facilitates better flexibility than simply holding down a stretch. Since muscles work in pairs, movement allows one set of muscles to work while the opposite group of muscles relaxes. Just think about how your legs move in footwork. This dynamic movement on the reformer stretches the feet, the legs and the hip flexors. Our mat classes use continuous movement of single leg stretch effectively stretching all the muscles in your legs. In fact, Active Isolated Stretching, created by Wharton Health many years ago is a dynamic stretching program used by athletes throughout the USA. Both Charlene and I have been certified practitioners of this dynamic flexibility program since the early 1990s. So along with the dynamic stretching of Pilates exercise, we at Pilates for Every Body utilize additional dynamic stretch programs in our classes and with our private clients. The practice of holding a stretch in a static position certainly has its place – think of the Ballet Stretches on the barrel or the Cadillac – yet it is increasingly clear that static stretching comes second in order when compared to dynamic stretching in both the classical and modern Pilates repetriore, as well as in the research literature. No matter how long it takes more NFL teams to recognize the effectiveness of dynamic stretching, our clients are already reaping its benefits. Perhaps some day more football players will start doing Pilates as a cross training method, after all the Dallas Cowboys just had a great season. Martellus Bennett and Antonio Brown have already been covered in the press for their adherence to Pilates. No matter what your personal fitness goals are, dynamic stretching is a positive addition to your workout, improving flexibility, quality of movement and injury prevention.

Pilates makes me feel better about myself, because I am stronger and have a sense of balance, as well as a good understanding of my body and my own ability to move.
Roni G.
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