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Warming up to the benefits of stretching

Are you stretching before games?

While bowls may be a low impact sport, players can still benefit greatly from stretching before a roll up.

Professor Tony Blazevich from Edith Cowan University’s School of Medical and Health Sciences in Western Australia says while stretching may not benefit the physical performance of elite athletes while playing it will help reduce the possibility of injury.

“The implementation of a stretching program will improve hip, knee and ankle mobility which helps provide a range of motion in players, which will allow them to move into the bowling position with more balance,” Professor Blazevich said.

“When flexibility is a problem, many bowlers tend to tilt their body a little to one side, reducing balance during the release phase.

“So flexibility is very important as well as being useful in daily life too!

“As far as stretching before bowls, I think it can also be useful as we age because we become stiffer due to the way our connective tissues change.

“Doing some stretching in the period before play perhaps just before the warm-up will acutely improve flexibility.

“In a low-intensity game like lawn bowls, I’d expect five to 10 minutes of muscle stretching before play as well as in separate sessions outside of play to be of benefit to most players, both in the game and outside it.”

Professor Blazevich says his study of 20 athletes compared their running speed, agility and vertical jump height following a comprehensive warm-up that included different types of muscle stretching and they found that while the research indicated there were no performance benefits, athletes reported that they felt more prepared and confident after the warm-up.

“The perception of freedom of movement and this psychological effect can’t be understated,” he said.

“For this reason, static stretching may be a good idea before sports participation.

“And our results show that dynamic stretching can also be incorporated into a warm-up without compromising their performance on the field, but it also doesn’t improve it in the way many thought.”

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