Stretching. Stretching. Stretching. Everyone
does it, and everyone knows how important it is. From preventing injuries and improving
flexibility, everyone HAS to find time to stretch. But are we “stretching” the truth
about stretching. Let’s take a lot at all of the supposed benefits of the magic of stretching.
The most clear benefit of stretching is improving flexibility, which is shown to be completely
true. Routinely stretching will improve one’s mobility and range motion. If you need mobility
work, stretching is your go-to exercise. But what about stretching to relieve soreness?
Unfortunately, the science gives this one a thumbs down. A research review from Cochrane
Database concluded that healthy adults stretching before, after, or a combination of before
AND after exercise, did not have “clinically important” reductions in muscle soreness.
Another strong belief is that stretching improves performance. Again, the science says, “Not
so fast.” A study in the Journal of Strength and Condition Research found that static stretching
REDUCED strength by 13%. Another study on ten male distance runners showed that when
the runners stretched before a mile run, they ran, on average, 13 seconds slower than if
they did not stretch. What about for preventing injuries? Does stretching
really help? Short answer: not exactly. A 12-week Australian study consisting of 1,538
male army recruits found “no clinically significant’ reductions in injury occurrence between stretching
and non-stretching groups, and also suggested that fitness levels and age were the main
factors causing injury. However, it is important to note that sports such as football and gymnastics
will benefit from stretching to avoid injuries related to having a low range of motion muscle
compliance. Lower stretch-shortening cycle activities, such as jogging and swimming,
do not really benefit from stretching. Now that you know the truth about stretching,
should you stop stretching before your exercises? For the most part, no. Stretching still has
the benefit of increasing flexibility, something that almost everyone needs.
What are your thoughts about stretching? Do you find it useful to stretch before or after
your exercises? Let us know your opinion on the comment section below!