Is Stretching Good For You?

Is Stretching Good For You

I remember back in the day when my High School soccer team would gather for stretches before practice. The stretching I’m talking about are the static stretches where you hold one position for longer periods of time. We had this great routine and would do it every time. Literally every sport I was ever in had a series of stretches that would be performed before the activity. Originally, we were all informed that stretching prevents cramping and injury, so to not stretch could be potentially harmful. Today, there are many experts out there with research to show that stretching before an activity actually is not beneficial to us before a routine and can even cause injury. For this reason, I have dug a little deeper and answer the question “Is Stretching Good For You?” Also, if stretching is not good, then what should we be doing?

The Purpose of Stretching

The purpose of stretching is to do a multitude of things. When done right, it will bring better circulation and blood-flow which is essential for overall performance and health. You will benefit from increased range of motion which is essential for gymnasts, martial artists, and athletes alike. It is also important in the arena of preventing injury. By now your thinking,”GREAT…so whats the deal?” Well, notice how I mention these things after stating “When done right.” There is a bad side to stretching you need to be aware of.

Stretching Is Bad

The problem with stretching is really in the timing more so than the act of stretching. When stretching before a workout, game, or other strenuous activity, you will actually be doing your body more harm than good. Old and recent studies show that you can lose anywhere from 5-8% of your body’s full strength after doing stretches where you hold a position for a long period of time. Hundreds of studies have been done to prove this to be true. Nobody knows exactly why, but believe it has to do with the stretching of the tendons and muscles losing their ability to store energy and bounce into action. This is the reason why timing is key to stretching, and why it shouldn’t be done before your activity.

Stretch At The Right Time

Stretching after a workout or performance of any kind is where stretching really comes into play. After such an activity your muscles and tendons are more than likely knotted and tight. In order for healthy healing and improved performance the next round, stretching will help to relax the muscles, loosen those tight tendons, and iron out the knots. In the end your muscles will come back bigger and stronger, and you will be ready to get back into action even faster.

Replace The Stretch

So what should you do before the big game or a workout? The type of warming up you should do will be more of a dynamic or active stretch. It will involve multiple movements at short bursts of motion to prep and fire up your muscles and tendons for action. Experts suggest movements that will mimic the movements you will be making to perform your activity. Some of these movements may be done through jumping jacks or toy soldier high kicks. Another great dynamic stretch that can be performed is in the video below.

 

 

8 Comments

  1. That is very interesting! I always stretch before golf and I wonder now if it hurts my game. Next time – I’m not going to stretch and see if I score better.

    • Well I would definitely suggest going through the motions at least to get the body warmed up and awake. Stretching can have negative affects but so can just jumping into an activity. You just want to be sure not to do static stretching.

  2. Very interesting!
    I still had the notion that stretching before my workout was the right thing to do.
    Starting today, when I go to the gym I’ll make sure to replace it with a warm-up series like you mentioned, and only stretch AFTER my exercises.
    Thanks for the tips.

    • Awesome! There ya go. I was the same way, and always thought people who didn’t stretch were crazy. While the ones who do nothing are the crazy ones, the ones doing active stretching and motions are one up on everyone else. Cheers!

  3. This is great information! I remember in my school days holding stretches for what felt like forever and I thought to myself this cant be right. I need to get moving, slowly, but I knew more movement would help warm up everything alot better. We were never taught to stretch things out after activity which I silly. This is how I have avoided a LOT of tight muscles after a good run, bike or workout in my home gym! I knew I was on to something!! Thanks!

    • Right! We never stretched after a workout or an activity in school, but they sure made us stretch before. It’s still great for flexibility and enhancing results when done after an activity, but what a backwards turnabout of info!

  4. This is a helpful and interesting article for me. I have often wondered if the stretches I do are helping at all. I did three sports all the way through high school and stretching always puzzled me.
    So only stretch after completing my exercise routine, or sport? Is that like the cooldown coaches talk about? I remember leaving wrestling practice with very sore muscles and we didn’t have the facilities to treat them back then.
    There were no team trainers or Jacuzzi’s to jump into. No ice-ing down anything. Just shower and go home. I hope the kids have better equipment in schools now. I have seen it in college, but I haven’t been around a high school in decades. Maybe you know?
    Thank you for this information. I like the quick, short, demonstration video. So active stretch before activity, then normal stretching routine after right? Thanks again.

    • Yep, the coaches and trainers back in the day had things completely backwards! You want to do active stretching before the routine and static stretching after. It makes for a great cool down and if you did this after your weightlifting in wrestling, you would have enhanced the results of your regimen and you would probably have performed better in your matches!

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