To Stretch or Not to Stretch: Let’s Try and Answer the Question
You probably grew up with the common knowledge that you need to stretch before working out, to increase performance and lower your risk of injury. Then some new information came out that cast doubt on whether stretching is helpful, or even if it may be harmful.
So a new study tried to finally solve whether stretching is something we should consistently add to our fitness programs or perhaps save time by cutting it out.
The researchers found 20 younger men who played sports and asked them go through intense bouts of stretching, according to this article:
…the athletes in this study began with a few minutes of easy jogging, followed by stretching, and then an additional 15 minutes of increasingly intense sprinting, jumping, zigzagging and other moves.
On four different days they did four different stretches and each time would then perform multiple exercises.
And what happened? Nothing.
That’s right, no matter what they did they all performed just as well at their post-stretching exercises. Which means, believe it or not, stretching does not seem to help or hurt before exercise.
Now, this study was with 20 guys who have no trouble going from 0-60 on the playing field so they are not your average person. And maybe for those of us who are slower or older it may be different.
Now. This is the Cardio High point of view based upon reading multiple other studies and articles on the topic.
- Dynamic warm up. Always do a dynamic warm up that slowly moves body through simple range of motion. Ultimately, the exerciser should mimic the movements of the intense part of the workout slowly.
- Static stretch to address imbalances. We are often stronger on our dominant side, or we sit/drive in a way that makes us tighter on one side. Do gentle static holds on the tight side prior to exercise to try to even out your body. We also use isometric holds to address this same issue. Examples of things we do at Cardio High; 3 way child’s pose (from Perfect Postures), bridge with a strap around thighs, block squeeze.
- Use static stretches after an interval training or sport workout to further address imbalances or to help the body recover. Do the stretches slowly and occasionally use active release in which you activate the muscle group and then stretch it.