Is stretching necessary before and after exercise?

During a discussion at work about stretching before and after exercise one of my collegues said “there’s no scientific proof stretching does any good to your training”. I’ve sported most of my years growing up and stretching before and after exercise has always been considered common sense. However, if I’m not sure about something I’m not ready to stand up for it in a discussion, so I just replied “I didn’t know”. This happened half a year ago and since then I’ve been just doing my runs with stretchings involved as usual.

But today I thought maybe I should look that one up on Internet. What I stumbled over was these articles which I find fascinating

The truth about stretching by jason Heavey
Stretching, flexibility, hamstrings and injury by Jim Bledsoe
Phys Ed: How Necessary Is Stretching? by Gretchen Reynolds
Stretching: The Truth by Gretchen Reynolds

The latter of them even suggests that conventional stretching before workout weakens the muscles temporarily. However the first two of them suggests that stretching after exercise is a good thing that makes muscles flexible and helps recovery.

On the other hand Stretching: The truth suggests that warm-up exercises before a workout is crucial to avoid injuries. There are even a few examples there.

I’m not the first one to throw myself at something just because I’ve read an article or two, but I truly find it intriguing stretching might not do as much as we believe. I’m at least willing to go further in my research.

2 replies on “Is stretching necessary before and after exercise?”

Every so often these kind of ‘gunk’ aspects come out, throwing everything into disarray

from my own perspective I have found stretching to assist athletes greatly in their preparation to train or race, be it part of their mantra for preparation and or whether it assists ‘scientifically or not’ is for the individual to decide.

One of the top athletes I coached never stretched and hardly ever had injuries, however he often found it very difficult to get going in the early stages of a race

find what works for you and stick to it

I personally believe stretching helps the recovery of the muscles after exercise, and helps the prevention of muscle soreness. I hardly ever stretch before my runs but have my own routine after workouts. I enjoy calming down after running with stretching but if I don’t have the time I skip it .. it’s does not mean the whole world to me. If I have lots of time I do more thorough exercises perhaps in front of TV.

I have also read about stretching, its benefits and disbenefits. I must be one of the most inflexible persons I know and I don’t seem to get any more flexible even with regular stretching. I do believe, the body benefits from being flexible and not having tight muscles. It simply functions better in every aspect – be it everyday tasks or exercise. I am sure I would feel physically better if I was more flexible and was rid of my tight back and neck muscles. I also believe heat (warm weather) helps muscles to relax and be more flexible and look so forward to moving to a warmer climate and feeling altogether healthier.

There is a lot of good in science but also a lot of it is ‘bad’. One study shows this and other shows the opposite. I agree with TheEd in that we must learn what works for us (whether the benefits are physical and/or mental) and stick to it.


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