March 18, 2012

Four Things You Don't Know About Stretching

  1. Stretching does not prevent injuries:  You have heard it for years; “stretch to prevent injuries”, however, when you look at the research there is none to support that statement. 
  2. Stretching does not prevent muscle soreness:  This is another oft-repeated myth that research does not support.
  3. Stretching is not a warm up: (See the post from Sept. 15, 2010).
  4. Stretching can cause injury: You can overstretch a muscle.  This is especially true of a muscle that has knots or scar tissue; if you put it under too much stress, it can be damaged.
Why are these facts so unknown?  For one, when “facts” are imbedded into our culture no one questions them.  For another, stretching feels good, and it seems common sense that increasing flexibility will prevent soreness and injury; however, the research does not back that up:  Does that mean stretching is bad?  I do not believe so.  Even if does not prevents injury or soreness, stretching will increase flexibility, something we all lose as we get older or inactive.  It is also a great way to end a workout, helping you to feel relaxed.  It  has a role in injury rehabilitation and in improving muscular imbalance.  Just make sure to only stretch warm muscles, avoid stretching before a workout, try not to force any stretch, and avoid bouncing.  You may not prevent an injury, but you will feel better.

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