Stretching Dos and Don'ts with Washington Sprinters

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Your high school competition may be unable to knock you off that top podium spot, but college is a completely different story. Everyone is so fast that any slight advantage you gain can help. To sprint away from tough foes vying for your hard-earned gold, start stretching before, during and after activity.

"For sprinters, stretching will allow muscles and the body to recover in a more efficient manner for the next practice and competition," says LaMonte Vaughn, former sprints coach for T&F at the University of Washington.

Here, Vaughn offers advice for sprinters looking to stretch their talent to the limit.

• Consult your coach or physician to better understand your body, and its strengths and limitations
• Stretch between sprint intervals at practice so your body continues breaking up lactic acid
• Perform static stretching or partner stretching before practices and meets
• Include upper body and arm stretches in your routine. As a sprinter, a tight upper body affects how tight your lower body is
• Be patient with every stretch. Slowly extend the muscle until it is well stretched

• Skip stretching. Flexibility improvement is attainable, gradually—but only if performed on a daily basis
• Overemphasize one particular muscle, most notably the hamstrings, while stretching
• Under-stretch, which means not performing a full movement or relaxing by doing only a half-stretch
• Over-stretch and force your muscle to go beyond its capability for that day
• Perform stretching only when convenient; make it a necessary, regular habit

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