Growing up skating, the mentality is anti-athletic and rebellious. That works well and good when you're 15 and invincible. But when you're 20 and start feeling pains in your legs, you have to do more than just skate. If you love skating and can't see your life without it, you need to stretch.
– Paul Rodriguez
Stretching can be good. Your cat stretches all day long. Although not the only thing you need, stretching can form a part of your efforts to restore the balance in our unnatural lifestyles of jumping down stairs and sacking ourselves on handrails, although you might be looking for stitches instead of stretches for that last one.
Skating for years and spending most of your time off your board sitting down will stiffen you up nicely, and it's hardly uncommon to hear skaters complaining about feeling stiff and inflexible. Although stretching can help you out with stiffness and inflexibility, these issues are more likely a result of weaknesses and muscular imbalances, so even if you stretch as much as your cat you might not be sorting your problems.
On the other hand when it comes down to stretching to improve how you skate, most people get it wrong and do the classic kind of stretching where they hold positions. Read on to find out what you should be doing instead.
Reduces tightness & unnecessary aches
Increases your energy levels
Reduces the risk of injury
Increases blood circulation
Improves joint range of motion
Improves body alignment & posture
Makes everyday movements more effortless
Ultimately makes you skate better
There are many different types of stretching you can do and doing the wrong one at the wrong time can actually do you over more than help you. For example, static stretching - the type of stretching that most skaters that do warm-up do - is actually the not the best type of stretching you can do before you skate as it can temporarily lower the strength and performance of your muscles. On the other hand, dynamic stretching does the opposite; strengthening and improving the performance and reaction time of your muscles, preparing your body for a skate.
when to stretch.
before you skate.
The type of stretching you want to do before you skate is dynamic stretching - stretching that uses movement to stretch a muscle.
This type of stretching increases power, endurance, coordination, vertical jump height and balance, amongst other things. When you skate you do a lot of fast and powerful movements and going into it with cold and stiff muscles makes doing tricks require more energy and well, just harder; we all know those sessions that take about x7 more energy than normal to pop your board and where warming up seems to never end.
Warming up with dynamic stretching helps destroy these sluggy starts and prepares your body for the movements you're going to do when you skate. It also keeps your body temperature up which is what you want when you warm-up, hence the name... Whereas sitting around on the floor doing static stretches will do nothing but chill your willy.
Go to the warm-up for skateboarding page where you'll find a list of dynamic stretches to do before you skate (at the bottom of the page).
Photo: Lani Finer 2013 © | Torey Pudwill stretching
after you skate.
Although stretching won't help you recover, if you enjoy doing it and it helps you chill after your session then the type of stretching you can do after you skate is static stretching - this is the classic kind of stretching where you hold a muscle in a stretched position without moving.
Some studies on football players showed a loss in ankle range of motion over the football season in players that didn't stretch, but a maintenance of range of motion in those that did. So even though stretching doesn't have any benefits for recovery in the moment, getting some stretching in throughout the week might help you maintain a more balanced body.
A lot of people think that they're just born inflexible and there's nothing they can do about it but this is just one of those myths that won't go away, like the idea that carrots have always been orange, yeh, they were once purple - everything you've been told is a lie. Nearly everyone is born flexible but due to their lifestyle, things like sitting down most of the day, lose it. Your muscles have a kind of memory which record the position they spend most of their time in, if this is a shortened and contracted position they'll gradually become accustomed to this length, remain tight, and lose their ability to stretch further. And on the other hand the muscles that remain in a stretched position can become weak. All in all you end up with imbalances around your joints.
Stretching regularly is only one part of the picture to reverting these effects and getting your flexibility back, normally if you don't work on sorting out the imbalances with strengthening exercises and other exercises that retrain your body to work in the right position, you won't get many results. On top of this if for example you stretch the muscles around your hips but still spend most of your time sitting then you probably won't see much improvement. But if you combine stretching with, strengthening, less sitting and whatever else you need to improve your mobility, then mate, you'll have the flexibility of a frog in no time.
Being flexible can help you move more effortlessly and even prevent injury. If your muscles are tight, your joints won't be able to go through their full range of motion and your body may compensate by putting stress on other parts so you can pull off the movement you want to do.
Increasing your flexibility can also give you more power. If you imagine pulling back a sling shot, the further you pull it back, the more power you get. It's the same with your muscles; the more flexible you are, the more power each muscle can generate to pull off a movement. If we bring this to skating - being more flexible means less resistance to bend down to pop your tricks and more power created by your muscles to lift you off the ground: less effort + more power = bigger pop. However, like I said it is also important to try and do strengthening exercises in your new range of motion to take full advantage of extra flexibility. Check out Brandon Westgate's Zoo England part above and watch how low he crouches when he's popping over something big.