Is Stretching Good For You?
Does stretching prevent injuries?
There has traditionally been a back and forth as to whether stretching is good or bad for you. I would like to clear this up. We will look at two different types of stretches that are most commonly prescribed; Static stretching and Dynamic Stretching. Static stretching is when you stand, sit or lie still and hold a single position for period of time. Dynamic stretches are active movements where joints and muscles go through a full range of motion,usually used before exercise as a warm-up.
Static stretching benefits:
- Improves flexibility
- Lowers the risk of sustaining musculotendinous injuries especially with high-intensity activities
- Increases Range of Motion (ROM)
Static Stretching Drawbacks:
- Aggressive static stretching can decrease strength and power output if performed immediately prior to competition
- Static stretching prior to competition does not appear to decrease the rate of sports related injuries.
- Static stretching is commonly practiced, but allocated time may be better used on more beneficial training modes such as dynamic warm-up, plyometrics, skill acquisition, and strength training.
Dynamic Stretching Benefits:
- Dynamic stretching appears to improve performance and confer more pre-competition benefits than static stretching.
- Dynamic warm ups and strength training programs do appear to decrease the rates of sports related injuries.
- The increase of body heat and blood flow loosens muscles and tendons
- It prepares the muscles by practicing the movements that will be required of them
- Increases ROM
Dynamic Stretching Drawbacks:
- Just like any other form of exercise, dynamic stretching can be dangerous if used incorrectly
- Can decrease performance and tire out muscles if performed too rigorously
So, is stretching good for you?
Yes, using short duration static stretching as part of a dynamic warm up routine can lower the risk of injuries. So stretch away!
Winchester, Jason & Nelson, Arnold & Landin, Dennis & Young, Michael & Schexnayder, Irving. (2008). Static Stretching Impairs Sprint Performance in Collegiate Track and Field Athletes. Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association. 22. 13-9. 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31815ef202.
Mcmillian, Danny & Moore, Josef & Hatler, Brian & Taylor, Dean. (2006). Dynamic vs. Static-Stretching Warm Up: The Effect on Power and Agility Performance. Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association. 20. 492-9. 10.1519/18205.1.
Chaabene H, Behm DG, Negra Y and Granacher U (2019) Acute Effects of Static Stretching on Muscle Strength and Power: An Attempt to Clarify Previous Caveats.Front. Physiol. 10:1468.doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.01468