What does the evidence say about what stretching does and does not do?
What stretching does do:
- Temporarily increases viscoelastic properties of the muscle up to 1 hour after stretch.
- Decreases strength output during applications of strength.
- Feels great.
- Makes you look like you know what you are doing.
What stretching does not do:
- Increases muscle length long term.
- Prevents injury.
- Improves performance.
- Uses time efficiently.
Stretching may feel great and we fully encourage people to stretch if this is your main goal. There is a large population of people out there that still feel that they need to stretch to prepare or get ready for activity, which simply is not the case in regards to safe sports and exercise participation.
If stretching before exercise has been a part of your warm-up routine for a while, continue to do so because a routine can be paramount in exercise preparation and ritual. However, having the knowledge that true evidence shows that there is a significant decrease in strength output, a slight decrease in power output and no injury prevention from stretching, might help you decide to advance your routine and refocus your time.
Your time is better spent getting ready for physical exertion through dynamic warmups, ballistic stretching and simply doing the movements that you intend to do. For example, you should squat with ever increasing load to warm up for a squat.
To see the referenced evidence view the sources listed at the bottom.
Interested in learning more about common movement and pain myths? Check out all of these myths
Have you been told stretching prevents injury? Get in touch with me today to learn more about what does prevent injury or comment below and we will address it.
The Movement Dr. is here to educate, empower, create independence and resilience so that you can “ReThink Your Rehab” and outwork everyone!
McHugh et al. To stretch or not to stretch: the role of stretching in injury prevention and performance. 2010
Lauersen et al. The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. 2013