The Right Reasons to Stretch Before Exercise
November 20th, 2011

For an article being published in next month’s issue of The British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia reviewed dozens of recent studies of stretching, hoping to determine whether the practice prevents people from getting sore after they exercise. The authors found 12 studies completed in the past 25 years that looked directly at that issue. Most were small and short-term. But each produced essentially the same result, the review authors write, showing that “stretching does not produce important reductions in muscle soreness in the days following exercise.”

That does not mean that you shouldn’t stretch, the study’s authors add, but it does indicate that stretching may not provide the benefits that many of us expect.

Write about fitness, and you soon learn that stretching is one of the more contentious and emotional issues among people who exercise. Those who regularly stretch tend to assume that the practice will prevent soreness and injury. Those who do not stretch frequently claim, with equal fervor, that stretching is a waste of time.

A slowly growing body of science suggests that each group has some evidence backing it up, although reliable information about stretching remains hard to come by, in part because stretching is difficult to study. Read more…


November 16, 2011, 12:01 am