Exactly a week to go for the Tata Mumbai Mumbai (formerly the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon), one of the largest long distance running events in Asia. Training has been accomplished over the last six months; now all that’s left to do is rest and be ready for race day. I won’t be doing a very long run this weekend; just a few short runs in the next couple of days, to keep the circulation going – not so much to tire out by next weekend.
Stretching will be important in the coming week – better flexibility helps the body to move more freely and efficiently. And a variety of stretches serve the purpose. Dynamic stretching is done before a workout to actively warm up – to prepare the joints for movement, and muscles for optimal activation. Static stretches are designed to hold a position for a joint or muscle, and are done after a session as part of the cool down routine. Stretching provides relief from cramping, improves range of motion in the joints, decreases the chances of any potential injury, and some studies also point towards reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Stretching inhibits the Golgi tendon organs (GTOs) and thereby reduces cramping by preventing an automatic tension in the motor unit. Most endurance athletes are known to display poor posterior chain flexibility (glutes, hamstrings, claves). Static stretching increases range of motion and decreases potential injury by increasing the number of sarcomere series (muscle fiber units), in response to the interaction between mechanical tension and the reaction from the nervous and immune systems. This causes the muscles and surrounding tissues to become longer, and puts less pressure on the pain receptors. Static stretching also decreases procollagen production, that causes collagen fibers to align in a more beneficial pattern. Various schools of exercise science point to durations of fifteen to thirty seconds as most beneficial for a static stretch.