Stretch Before Exercising. Fact or Fiction?
Conventional thought has told us over the years that stretching before any form of exercise will not only warm up muscles for the work-out ahead, but it will prevent injury during the course of your physical exertion. This ideology was drilled into us during the gym-time line-ups in elementary school and more likely than not you’ve carried this message through to your adult exercise regimen. But is it true? Does stretching for a work-out or run actually help your body? The short answer: No.
Several universities have participated in and conducted extensive research on this subject and the findings are very similar. One such study was performed by Doug Richards of the University of Toronto (the link at the bottom) dismisses the popularized theories with hard facts. Richards found that most, if not all, the rumored benefits of stretching were false. Specifically, the following two concepts were clarified:
Stretching Before Exercising: People believed this helped warm-up the body and ultimately avoid sports related injuries, but in fact this pre-stretch may actually inhibit you from performing at your best.
Stretching After Exercising: Following exercise, people were encouraged to stretch once more as this would relax muscles but it might put strain on your body that has already been pushed during your work-out.
Keeping this in mind, how you do prevent injuries while also warming up for your daily exercise routine or morning run? Simple enough, learn how to stretch properly:
First: Spend 10 minutes warming your body through a brisk walk or comparable low-intensity exercise.
Second: Stretch your muscles lightly; hold positions for no more than 30 seconds. Breath normally. Do not over extend yourself.
Third: Work this into your routine so it becomes part of a regular work-out. This will lower the possibility of injury and increase the effectiveness of stretching.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of popular belief. Rumors that start innocently enough can easily turn into “common knowledge” that the general population refuse to contest. Thankfully, scientists have challenged the stretching rumor and have managed to find a clear, applicable solution to replace the long outdated system.
BY RACHEL HORWITZ