To Stretch or Not to Stretch……

October 31, 2016

The short answer is no. But we need to define what we mean by “stretch”. Generally, we are talking about passive stretching, whereby you take a muscle to the end of the available range of motion and hold it for anywhere from 10 to 60 seconds.

Definitely not.

Firstly, it doesn’t do what you think it does. Looser muscles or more range of motion or prevent injuries. None of the above. Zero solid evidence that it does any of it.

Secondly, there is good evidence that some structures in your body will be worse. Tendons HATE passive stretches. Nerves don’t like them much either. Passively stretching your hamstrings before exercising decreases your strength and power output and INCREASES the likelihood of injury. That’s right, up. Not down.

This, however, does not mean you don’t need to warm up or work on your mobility.

Your warm up needs to be dynamic and specific to your exercise/sport. Dynamic stretches, plyometric exercises, sport specific drills are all essential.

After training or competing you want to reverse the natural consequences of exertion – for muscle some light activity immediately after and then use your roller or a hard ball like a hockey ball to get into tight muscles.

For more range of motion, it’s even easier, just move! Find out where you lack movement, work out what you need (Newcastle Performance Physio can help you there) and work towards it. Rather than holding a stretch, you are better off moving towards your limit, stop and then repeat. Especially if your job is repetitive or sedentary, you will have movement restriction somewhere. Maintaining range of motion and normal muscle tone are much more likely to keep you performing and away from us than “stretching”

Share this on social media with your stretch-obsessed coaches and trainers

Until next time