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To Stretch or Not to Stretch? Strike Recovery and Performance

To Stretch or Not to Stretch?

The answer to this question will depend on many factors, such as what types of exercise and stretching you intend to do.

Some do it everyday, some do it once a week, and some haven’t done it in years. Most of us probably learned how to stretch way back in elementary school in our PE classes. Today, those that still stretch might say it prevents injuries, improves performance, or just feels good all around. Those that don’t stretch usually admit that they should stretch, but just don’t work it in.

Today, there is lots of science-backed research that explains the benefits of stretching. This blog summarizes much of the research, so you can make your own decision about stretching. We are going to take a look at several areas of research, specifically stretching right before performing an activity, benefits of stretching, as well as stretching for injury prevention.

Stretching Right Before Activity

Should you stretch before a workout? According to an article by Boston University, “Stretch Before Exercise? Not So Fast”, recent studies caution people away from stretching before workouts, suggesting it could actually impede your body’s performance. According to this research, runners run more slowly, jumpers jump less high, and weight lifters lift more weakly by stretching, without significantly ensuring against injury during their exercise.

Today, there is evidence supporting that people go through a dynamic stretching routine instead of a static stretching routine prior to exercising. Bringing the body through a range of motion can actually prepare it for the demands of the exercise session.

Benefits of Regular Stretching

Stretching only once today won’t magically give you perfect flexibility. You’ll need to do it over time and remain committed to the process. Stretching increases muscle flexibility, which is needed to maintain a healthy range of motion in the joints.

Some health benefits of stretching include:

  • More flexibility
  • Improved mobility
  • Better range of motion
  • Stretching-induced hypertrophy
  • Lower injury risk
  • Healthy aging

Some good times to stretch are:

  • Before the workout: Be sure to do dynamic stretching. Do dynamic stretches before every workout. 5 to 10 minutes should be enough to get you warmed up.
  • After the workout: Slower, more relaxing techniques such as passive and static stretching are great for after a workout. These methods lengthen the muscles and connective tissues and help your body return to a balanced state (homeostasis), meaning your body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure all return to normal.

Stretching For Injury Prevention

As per an article published by Sport Med, titled, “Stretching and injury prevention: an obscure relationship”, several authors have suggested that stretching has a beneficial effect on injury prevention. In contrast, clinical evidence suggesting that stretching before exercise does not prevent injuries has also been reported. Apparently, no scientifically based prescription for stretching exercises exists and no conclusive statements can be made about the relationship of stretching and athletic injuries. 

Stretching brings nutrients to your muscles and relieves tension. It increases the feeling of well-being and improves flexibility. Regular stretching can improve your flexibility and this may be of benefit, especially if you participate in a sport that requires a large range of movement. It’s also been shown that stretching can reduce the amount of soreness an exerciser feels after activity. More importantly, however, a significant number of people simply feel better and report less pain from a number of conditions if they stretch regularly. Even if it doesn’t prevent injury, if it gives you an improved sense of well being then it’s a worthwhile activity.

Book an Appointment

Book an Appointment with us for a free consultation, a no-hassle way to see if we can help with your injury or answer any questions about a treatment plan that may be best for your needs. Strike Recovery & Performance is a premier sports injury rehab and prevention center for all patients from children and seniors, to elite athletes. You may also contact us by Phone: 604-918-5400 or Email: info@strikerecovery.com. We look forward to assisting you.