Do You Really Need To Stretch?
has long played an important role in the world of sport and fitness, with many
athletes stretching religiously before and after exercise in hopes of
practice has been called into question with many people wondering if stretching
really makes a difference to athletic performance. The answer, like most
things, is not black and white, as we explore a little in this article.
introduction to stretching
is a type of movement that increases flexibility by lengthening muscle fibres
to the end of their range. Stretching before and after exercise has been
thought to reduce the risk of injury, improve athletic performance and reduce
muscle soreness after exercise.
The two most
common types of stretching are static and dynamic stretching. Static stretching
is when you lengthen your muscle and then hold that position for a period of
stretching uses movement and momentum of the body to stretch muscles to their
end range, without holding the stretch at the end.
the research say?
research has suggested that static stretching before an activity can actually
power, strength and performance.
However, these reductions were shown to be minimal and not noticed at all if
the stretches were held for less than 45 seconds. It has also been found that stretching does
improve flexibility but only for a short period of time. A few minutes after
stretching, your joints move further, and with less resistance, so you may have
improved flexibility immediately after stretching.
that is undeniable is that stretching feels great, with many people feeling
more relaxed and reporting a rush of endorphins after a good stretching
session. It is also difficult to test the long-term effects of stretching
specific muscles showing abnormal tightness. A long-term static stretching
routine will improve your overall flexibility, and this is thought to help
prevent injuries, although the evidence is inconclusive.
If you’re an
athlete, the decision to stretch or not can be a personal one. A warm-up prior
to intense exercise that includes some form of dynamic stretching is generally
recommended for reducing injury risk, but of course is no guarantee. Strength
and balance training may have a far greater impact on reducing injuries in the
physiotherapist is able to guide you on the best stretching advice for your individual
activity and they may be able to identify some areas where improving your
flexibility will help to reduce injuries and improve performance.
None of the information in this article is a replacement
for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for advice on your