To Stretch or Not to Stretch You be the Judge

  1. To Stretch or Not to Stretch You be the Judge

    Stretching May Not Prevent Injuries

    But Expert Questions Study Findings

    By Salynn Boyd

    WebMD Medical News

    Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson, MD

    Aug. 30, 2002 -- From elite athletes to weekend warriors, few active people would think of engaging in strenuous exercise without first stretching those triceps, biceps, hamstrings, and quads. The idea that stretching reduces the risk of injury during exercise is a rarely questioned tenet of sports medicine, but new research suggests it may be wrong.

    Researchers reviewing five major studies concluded that stretching prior to or after exercise does little to prevent either injury or muscle soreness. They estimate that stretching would prevent one training-related injury in 23 years.

    Study author Robert D. Herbert of the University of Sidney in Australia tells WebMD the studies offer convincing evidence that stretching is of little value for preventing injury and soreness.

    "The (injury) findings were in army recruits, so it is not clear if they apply to other groups like professional or recreational athletes," he says. "We would like to see the studies replicated in these populations, but the best evidence we have does not support a role for stretching."

    Sports medicine expert Angela D. Smith, MD, disagrees. She tells WebMD the clinical evidence on stretching is contradictory and incomplete. A former competitive ice skater, Smith is an orthopaedic surgeon and the immediate past president of the American College of Sports Medicine. She has also coached skating and was the team doctor for the U.S. world skating team.

    "It is very difficult to do a good study on this, and many are not very well designed," she says. "In the army recruit studies [cited in this review], injuries like ankle sprains, contusions [bruises], and fractures were included. These are injuries that have nothing to do with flexibility."

    She says her own research on young ice skaters strongly suggests that appropriate stretching helps reduce knee injuries. And studies in the elderly have shown that stretching helps prevent falls and hip fractures.

    The pre-activity regimen Smith recommends starts with a warm-up exercise such as sit ups, push ups, or jumping rope, followed by isolated stretching of the muscles to be used. Athletes who primarily use their upper bodies, such as swimmers, pitchers, and racket sports players, should focus on their triceps and biceps. Those who use the muscles in their lower body most, such as runners, should stretch hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. Each stretch should last 15 or 20 seconds.

    "The vast majority of people need to warm up and get their muscles ready for strenuous activity," Smith says. "That is true for serious athletes and weekend warriors alike."


    Stretching Before Exercise Prevents Injury

     By Jennifer Warner

    WebMD Features

    Reviewed By Gary Vogin, MD

    April 30, 2002 -- Your high school gym teacher was right. Stretching your muscles before exercise really does help prevent injury, according to a new study.

    The researchers say that until now there has been little real evidence that stretching before a workout reduced the risk of muscle injury. But, by simulating the process in mice, they were able to detect physiological changes that occur with stretching, which may play a role in protecting muscles against injury.

    Mice who had performed isometric contractions (a stretching technique using resistance) and passive stretches had elevated levels of inflammatory cells called neutrophils. This inflammatory response seemed to protect the mice from subsequent muscle injury by preparing their bodies for a more strenuous workout ahead.

    Study author Timothy Koh, PhD, of University of Michigan, presented the findings last week at the annual Experimental Biology 2002 conference in New Orleans.


  2. I will disagree with this post. Im a wrestler. If I don't bend. I break.

  3. There is a previous thread here on stretching. Just wanted to share some scientific opinions on the subject to see what you guys thought on this evidence. Thanks for the feedback Dez. I found this to help enlighten me none the less.

  4. I'm doing both Yoga and Martial arts right now and find that stretching for the sake of gaining flexibility and range of motion is key. I have always known about the concept of injury reduction through stretching but I belive in warming up more than anything else before I enter the workout and then stretching may be apart of the workout (non-weights) or after the workout.

  5. "evidence does not support a role for stretching"


    "The vast majority of people need to warm up and get their muscles ready for strenuous activity, that is true for serious athletes and weekend warriors alike."

    lol yeah no ****! I'll tell you where the small minority who plow right into exercises w/out warmup is... they're sitting at home on their collective ass with ice packs on all their torn up ****! if you can workout without stretching or warming up, and NOT hurt yourself, then you're lifting ***** weights, or are doing something completely wrong IMO

  6. I'll agree that warmup and some streching are definatley necessary.  IMO dynamic streching(or something like that) with less time holding and more time moving is my preference.  I never liked or benefited from the long hold streching and personally think its counter productive.  But on the other hand moving the muscle slowly through its complete ROM and putting some minimal tension on it keeps the blood in it and keeps it warm.  I'll do this as part of my warmup and between sets.

  7. I have found out that post-WO stretching helped my biceps tendonitis (shoulder attachement) tremendously , along with a lot of icing.



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