Stretching is widely accepted as a beneficial pre-workout or warming up activity. Most people accepted as a kind of truth that stretching has good effects in some form or another. But did you know that science suggests that it does not have much measurable benefits?
Stretching is not an Effective Warmup
The science of stretching debunked that stretching your muscles by way of contracting and elongating them does not contribute much in terms of warming up. In fact, according to a 2011 rundown review of various researches on stretching, this way of warming up made no significant effect. One particular study even went as far as suggesting that it actually does harm. A test conducted in 2014 found that stretching before running leads to the skeletal muscles releasing less than desired explosive force. For professional runners out there, to know that stretching could actually make them slower sounds discouraging indeed.
Rather than stretching, doing a less intense version of the activity you are about to do is more advisable. For instance, walking before running.
It Doesn’t Prevent Injury
One common dogma about stretching is it helps in preventing injury to happen. A combination of clinical studies and recent literature reviews found otherwise. A Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine review in 2005, suggests that regardless of what kind of stretch warm-up is done, the rate of injury is still not lessened. Additionally, a 2008 study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that there is no recorded difference in injury incidents among soldiers doing preventive exercises.
It Doesn’t Prevent Soreness
Another widely accepted notion about stretching is it could prevent muscle soreness from developing. For example, those that penetrate deep in the muscles after a rigorous workout or an exhaustive physical activity, or what is properly called “delayed-onset muscle soreness” (DOMS).
Many studies were successful in showing that stretching never prevents the occurrence of DOMS.
Microscopic tearing of muscles is the major cause of DOMS and stretching does not affect its onset or its prevention either way.
So the next time you set out and about to do some sports, consider these truths as presented by the science of stretching. You might be better off doing less intense routines and moves rather than reaching your toes using your fingers or reaching your back using the palm of your hands.