Stretching as a unique method of treatment hasn’t proven to be effective in reducing the incidence of musculoskeletal injuries. How important is stretching when you exercise? A few weeks ago I published an article titled, “Proper Stretching” with the subheading, “That’s NOT how you use stretching.” And in that article I made the comment that some of the research on stretching and flexibility is flawed. Res Sports Med. Be very wary of anyone who tells you that doing a few stretches before your next game will make you sports injury bullet-proof or turn you into a super athlete. And doing the same stretches over and over again isn’t going to help either. About the Author: Brad Walker is often referred to as the "Stretch Coach" and has even been called the Stretching Guru. But before I do that, I just want to comment on a couple of mistakes that I see a lot of people making when they are interpreting scientific research or research studies. 1985 Jul-Aug;2(4):267-78. doi: 10.2165/00007256-198502040-00004. Does Stretching Prevent Exercise Injuries? Stretches should be done until they almost hurt. Disclaimer: The health and fitness information presented on this website is intended as an educational resource and is not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice. Flexibility can be limited by the voluntary and reflex control that a muscle exhibits while undergoing a stretch, in particular a rapid stretch that activates the ‘stretch reflex’. I agree that unless a stretching program is pretty technical it probably does little to actually prevent injury. Witvrouw E, Mahieu N, Roosen P, McNair P. Br J Sports Med. I was at university studying health science in sport and exercise, and I’d eagerly devour any new research I could get my hands on about how to train athletes more efficiently and effectively. In the meantime, stay healthy, keep stretching and God bless. There is no evidence that stretching helps to reduce or prevent a type of pain that can show up a day or two after exercising – also called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Then the next month another article would come out exposing strength training as a waste of time; an activity that did more harm than good, and would only serve to slow athletes down and cause more injuries, not less. A stretching and strengthening regimen should target the back, abdominal, and buttock muscles. First:Immobilization, or "heating-induced increases in muscle compliance", caused tissues to rupture more easily. Expanding your muscle fibers increases your flexibility and muscles that are fluid and pliable are less prone … Prevalence of knee injuries among male college students in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Plus, the DVD includes 3 customized sets of stretches (8 minutes each) for the Upper Body; the Lower Body; and the Neck, Back & Core. Plus, you'll also learn the 7 critical rules for safe stretching; the benefits of flexibility; and how to stretch properly. 2019 Nov 29;10:1468. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.01468. While the research is limited, it doesn’t mean that strength exercises aren’t beneficial, or don’t have a place in your training program. You want to make sure to stretch … Fourth, stretching can produce damage at the cytoskeleton level. Improves freedom and ease of movement (bend, reach and turn further); Reduces aches, pains and stiff, tight muscles and joints; Reduces the susceptibility to soft tissue injuries like muscle and tendon strains; Reduces fatigue and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS); Bisconti, A. Cè, E. Longo, S. Venturelli, M. Coratella, G. Limonta, E. Doria, C. Rampichini, S. Esposito, F. (2020), Caplan, N. Rogers, R. Parr, M. Hayes, P. (2009), Fradkin, A. Zazryn, T. Smoliga, J. Evidence for improved systemic and local vascular function after long‐term passive static stretching training of the musculoskeletal system, The Effect of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation and Static Stretch Training on Running Mechanics, Effects of warming-up on physical performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis, Daily muscle stretching enhances blood flow, endothelial function, capillarity, vascular volume and connectivity in aged skeletal muscle, Chronic Static Stretching Improves Exercise Performance, A Large, Randomized, Prospective Study of the Impact of a Pre-Run Stretch on the Risk of Injury in Teenage and Older Runners, The Importance of Flexibility for Functional Range of Motion, Warming-up and stretching for improved physical performance and prevention of sports-related injuries, When and Whom to Stretch? In contrast, clinical evidence suggesting that stretching before exercise does not prevent injuries has also been reported. A small study has even found that some inflexibility in specific areas can actually be an asset for runners. In other words; if you were a runner, you ran. Before any kind of physical activity, including stretching, the body needs to be warmed up with some light exercise. While numerous companies have implemented stretching programs,(1;2) the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of these programs have not been demonstrated. Except that stretching doesn’t prevent much injury, if any, so it’s unlikely that it can treat it either. Donti O, Gaspari V, Papia K, Panidi I, Donti A, Bogdanis GC. That's why stretching and strengthening your back and abdominal muscles are important not only for treating low back pain, but also for helping to prevent a recurrence of the problem. Limited research studies do suggest that a stretching program performed everyday over a long period of time can increase the flexibility of muscles by increasing their visoelastic properties 2 and this MAY decrease the incidence of muscular injuries but not tendon, ligament, or bone injuries. You don’t just do a few stretches before you run onto the sports field and expect that you’re going to be a super athlete or bulletproof to injury. Although it can boost flexibility, so what? Two groups of people, a stretching group and a non-stretching group. So regular, consistent, long-term stretching (chronic stretching) can prevent injury and improve athletic performance, but doing static stretches immediately before power based activities like running, jumping and sprinting (acute stretching) can have a … Doing one or two stretches every now and again isn’t going to help. Hotta, K. Behnke, B. Arjmandi, B. Ghosh, P. Chen, B. Brooks, R. Maraj, J. Elam, M. Maher, P. Kurien, D. Churchill, A. Sepulveda, J. Kabolowsky, M. Christou, D. Muller-Delp, J. Does stretching prevent injury? Static, active and … In trying to prevent injuries, safety … Bye for now. We have long been told that stretching helps prevent injuries and this is still the view of many working in the field. However, it won’t increase your risk either. Remember, stretching is not a quick fix. In contrast, when the type of sports activity contains low-intensity, or limited SSCs (e.g. An individualized Corrective Ex program can help prevent injuries that can occur from working out. Stretching before exercising could actually CAUSE an injury - and make you slower Static stretching – where limbs are extended and held in a position for a period of time – is particularly bad The Penn Vet Working Dog Center Fit to Work Program: A Formalized Method for Assessing and Developing Foundational Canine Physical Fitness. jogging, cycling and swimming) there is no need for a very compliant muscle-tendon unit since most of its power generation is a consequence of active (contractile) muscle work that needs to be directly transferred (by the tendon) to the articular system to generate motion. (2007). Clipboard, Search History, and several other advanced features are temporarily unavailable. And it’s exactly the same with stretching. 2020 Mar 31;15(1):126. doi: 10.1186/s13018-020-01638-1. This new application of stretching is especially relevant in the current pandemic period of increased confinement to our homes, where the possibility of performing beneficial training to improve and prevent heart disease, stroke, and other conditions is limited. Previous to the mid 1980’s, the only people who did strength training, or lifted weights, were body builders, and the thought of any other athlete lifting weights was ridiculous. 3. Stretching has important implications for athletes who want to prevent injuries or rehabilitate them. And essentially that is what a lot of the studies on stretching and flexibility are doing. Magazines such as Runners World, Bicycling, Triathlete, Swimming & Fitness, and Triathlon Sports have all featured his work. It is possible that persons who are unable to participate in traditional strength training activities may be able to experience gains through stretching, which would allow them to transition into a more traditional exercise regimen.”, “Warm-up also appears to reduce the incidence and likelihood of sports-related musculoskeletal injuries. Most reports of the benefits achieved by worksite stretching programs continue to be published … And then they design a stretching routine or a stretching program that the athlete uses to improve those weaknesses and imbalances. Emiliano Cè, PhD, an author of the study, says that doing stretching could be beneficial for the vascular system during extended periods of confinement, (due to COVID-19). Stretching can help heal an existing back injury by stretching the muscles. The short answer: In exactly the same way as you would use a strength training program. Actually, a combination of different stretches works best to condition your muscles and prevent future injuries. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0240181. Stretching keeps your normal flexibility, and research shows keeping it part of your routine, either after your workout or later in the day, can prevent injury.” Front Physiol. By the time I got to university in 1990, I’d already developed a keen interest in the field of sports coaching and athletic training. The coach looks at the athlete, they look for weaknesses, they look for imbalances, and they look for areas where stretching or improved flexibility will help their sport. Stretching again after activity should also be part of an injury prevention plan. Stretching the muscles prepares them for physical activity and prevents injuries. And then to read the full story, you have to pay to actually access it. The optimal duration of high-intensity static stretching in hamstrings. Stretching again after activity should also be part of an injury prevention plan. If that’s all you do to prevent injury. The total injury rate was almost the same between two groups; however, the incidences of muscle/tendon injury and low back pain were significantly lower in the stretching group (p < 0.05). Stretching can make an existing injury worse. And if you did a study where you had one group who did those exercises before they ran onto the field and another group who didn’t. It might depend who you ask. This is also critical in order to avoid direct injury from trying new stretches that you are unfamiliar with. Myth: the theory that stretching prevents injury has been disproved but the practice remains popular. So regular, consistent, long-term stretching (chronic stretching) can prevent injury and improve athletic performance, but doing static stretches immediately before power based activities like running, jumping and sprinting (acute stretching) can have a detrimental effect on explosive power and speed. Most now agree that coaches and trainers may want to avoid using stretching as a means of injury risk prevention immediately prior to athletic activities. Apart from the immediate and most obvious benefit of improving flexibility, mobility and range of motion there are quite a number of other benefits that regular, consistent stretching brings, including: A 2020 study concluded that 12 weeks of passive stretching can improve blood flow and improve your heart health. And that drew a couple of comments. Thus, static stretching can help prevent injury risk if it increases mobility. The warm-up is also a good opportunity for an individual to prepare themselves mentally for the game ahead and for a team to work together prior to the start of the game. COVID-19 is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation. Again, chronic (or regular, consistent, long-term stretching) can improve exercise performance. Now, let me explain that by giving you a bit of a story or an illustration. So what happened with strength training? It’s not permanent, but it can diminish your athletic performance and predispose you to injury. Flexibility can cut down on injuries, especially at the knee and ankle. (Strength of Recommendation [SOR]: B, based on meta-analyses of lower-quality randomized controlled trials [RCTs].) Conclusion: The basic science literature supports the epidemiologic evidence that stretching before exercise does not reduce the risk of injury. How Does Stretching Prevent Injury? Is there any scientific evidence that doing strength training before playing sport will prevent sports injuries (or make you a better athlete)? Therefore, stretching (and thus making the tendon more compliant) may not be advantageous. contralateral femoral and popliteal arteries and brachial artery) in PS training. Examples of Dynamic stretching… Discussed on Wikipedia, but better described here — include. When stretching did offer some benefit of risk prevention it was accompanied with a warm-up routine. Weak back and abdominal muscles can cause or worsen low back pain. If this point of view is used when examining research findings concerning stretching and injuries, the reasons for the contrasting findings in the literature are in many instances resolved. You don’t know the procedures that went into the study. Warming-up and stretching for improved physical performance and prevention of sports-related injuries. Does stretching reduce injuries? Kokkonen, J. Nelson, A. Eldredge, C. Winchester, J. Third:Stretching won't affect muscle compliance during eccentri… Stretching before exercise does not reduce the risk of injury, according to one sports medicine expert. Over time, coaches, athletes and researchers discovered how to use strength training for the greatest benefit to the athlete.  |  Stretching can definitely help in the prevention of injuries. The first mistake I see is that a lot of people only read the conclusion of the research study and this is a big mistake. And over the long term, again, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, hopefully those imbalances go away. In order to improve flexibility, it’s important to first understand some of the science underpinning the principles of stretching. But, he says, stretching at other times may be beneficial. Consequently, the rationale for injury prevention in these sports is to increase the compliance of the muscle-tendon unit. While some coaches and trainers still cling to an outdated form of athletic preparation called specificity (see below) most athletes, coaches and trainers today, and especially those at the top of their sport, include flexibility training as a regular part of their preparation. And reading the conclusion without knowing all that is like taking it totally out of context. The trainer then designs a program that works to improve these areas, and over the long term, these strength improvements translate into improved athletic performance and a greater resilience to injury. A review of the literature]. This increased flexibility won’t prevent injuries by itself. The study also concluded that stretching can reduce problems in a person’s vascular system and decrease the risk of events such as heart attack and stroke. But the problem or the flaw comes because that’s not how you use stretching. So you don’t know exactly how the study was conducted. I want to make one point before I finish up. 2020 Mar 3;8(3):28. doi: 10.3390/sports8030028. Amazon (author page) has listed his books on five Best-Seller lists. eCollection 2020. And if you’re consistent, in a month or two you’ll find that you have a greater range of movement; you’ll feel more fluid and relaxed; you’ll be less susceptible to muscle strains and pulls; and you’ll be enjoying your sport more too. See what the differences are after you play a sport.  |  They take in two different groups. Bisconti, A. Cè, E. et al. (2005) When and Whom to Stretch? Imagine that you’re about to run onto the sports field and it doesn’t matter what sports. Shrier, I. Dynamic stretching is one of the best ways workers can incorporate injury prevention into their daily office routine. 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