Stretching is perhaps one of the most controversial fitness subjects of present day. Passionate debates arise between those who perceive the benefits of stretching and those, like me, who think stretching is one of the worst activities you can partake in, especially if you’re already injured. It’s a tradition that’s hard to break because so many of us have the stretching necessity ingrained in our heads as we’ve listened to coaches, trainers, professional athletes, researchers, and doctors throughout our fitness lives. Although research shows stretching has no value and may actually cause harm, people find it difficult to “Just Say ‘no’ to stretching.” Now, to clarify, I’m primarily talking about static stretching – that’s the “stretch and hold” type of stretching. Dynamic stretching is different as it promotes natural movements and range of motion that typically isn’t harmful if done properly. I’m all for moving natural and natural/normal range of motion of joints and muscles but I don’t think that we need to call this “stretching.” Read on to understand my madness…
I don’t stretch. I’ve never advised any patient, athlete, or anyone who cares about their health to stretch. I am in very good health and have very good fitness. Although I don’t stretch at all, I’m rather flexible. This is because flexibility is a reflection of health and fitness, not stretching. I had two interesting experiences over the past couple years with coaches I hired for a bit to help me with my swimming and cycling techniques. The swim coach noticed I was not extending my arm out far enough in the water and therefore not grabbing as much water as I could be. Essentially I was not making myself as long as I could be and streamlining through the water. So he pulled me out of the pool and showed me what to do on land. He commented on how I was too tight and needed to stretch my arms out more to get the length I was looking for. But when I was able to do on land what he wanted me to do in the water he was amazed I could lengthen my body (arm) out so much. I was not inflexible, I just had poor swim technique, and that needed correction. My cycling coach was also surprised when he was checking my flexibility to adjust my bike position. His initial comment was that I must stretch a lot as I was pretty flexible for someone who can remain in a bent over aero position on a bike for five or more hours. I still don’t think he believed me when I told him I never stretch. I did stretch a lot in high school – before cross country practice, a lot in wrestling practice, and on my own. I was injured a lot. When I wasn’t injured, I was still having some muscular issue somewhere. Now I subscribe to my no stretching, no injuries program.
The thought that stretching relaxes and is therapeutic for tight muscles is not only a misconception, it has never been proven. It actually weakens muscles, and that’s definitely not a good thing. Muscle tightness is due to an imbalance. The imbalance lies within the neuromuscular system – so it is a reflection of the nervous system via the muscular system. The idea that many physicians, therapists, coaches, and athletes have that you need to stretch a tight muscle to relax it and exercise a neurologically weak muscle to strengthen it is incorrect. It sounds nice, but your body doesn’t work that way. Clinicians who evaluate muscle function in athletes observe that stretching a muscle could make it longer and increase flexibility but this resulted in a reduction in function from a loss of power. “There is a neuromuscular inhibitory response to static stretching,” Malachy McHugh, the director of research at the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told the New York Times. “The straining muscle becomes less responsive and stays weakened for up to 30 minutes after stretching, which is not how an athlete wants to begin a workout.”
A study done at the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Texas compared changes in muscles that were stretched and not stretched in the same person. They found that stretching one muscle can also impair another muscle that was not stretched, possibly through a central nervous system inhibitory mechanism. That means that stretching (and weakening) a muscle in your left leg could weaken a muscle in your right leg that you didn’t even stretch!
Other studies show adverse effects on lower limb power, sprinting ability, and vertical jump. These abnormal changes induced in a stretched muscle can last for an hour or longer, and some clinicians have demonstrated that stretching can cause prolonged muscle problems that can last days and weeks. Yet despite these findings, track sprinters, high jumpers, and other athletes that rely on jumping power including basketball players still feel the need to stretch.
Some people don’t agree with the fact that stretching causes muscle weakness because they don’t feel weak after stretching. This is because most people feel the tight part of muscle imbalance and usually don’t feel muscle weakness until it begins affecting a joint or unless it’s severe enough to reduce muscle power. So you might feel your hamstring to feel tight and the need to stretch it, but typically the weakness is in the antagonist muscle, in this case the quadriceps. Stretching the hamstrings will further weaken that “tight” muscle and perhaps temporarily provide symptomatic relief, but the problem will only continue to spiral downward.
So what causes muscle imbalances and the feeling of tight muscles and the need to stretch? Well, muscle imbalances occur for many reasons but ultimately there is some stress to the nervous system, either systemically (throughout the entire body), or locally. For example, if you injure your hamstring this may inhibit the function of that muscle so it hurts. You may perceive the weakness as pain in the area or you may have pain and/or tightness on the opposite side, in the quadriceps, as it tries to compensate for the hamstring weakness. You inclination would then be to stretch the quads to “relax” them, but the problem is really in the hamstrings; that is the area that needs to be addressed. Doing hamstring exercises won’t strengthen the muscle because that doesn’t effectively deal with the injury. So you can do hamstring curls or some other exercise all day long and it won’t turn the hamstrings on any more than stretching will relax the quadriceps.
Typically in this case, the best thing you can do to turn on the hamstrings is apply deep pressure manipulation – also known as origin-insertion technique or trigger point therapy – to the areas of injury and the tendon attachments. Stretching does not help injuries because it elongates the muscle fibers. That is not helpful or healing for injured muscles. When there is an injury, the fibers are already elongated and pulled away from another or in some other configuration than what they should be in order to properly heal. Stretching will only make this worse. Using trigger point therapy can help those fibers line back up and heal properly. Feel around with deep pressure throughout the muscle, from the belly to both ends, looking for very tender “hot” spots. Hold them and/or rub them out with deep pressure in a slight circular motion for 15-30 seconds. Your therapist or doctor may need to assist you with this and they may need to perform other types of therapies to help your injured muscle heal and “turn on.” Please note that this is not advice to necessarily treat yourself. Use common sense. If you have a major muscle pull or tear, or obviously if you aren’t healing, you should seek the advice of a professional.
Then there is the systemic issue where an individual muscle, or group or muscles, feels very tight. Maybe your whole body feels tight and you have a stretching routine to “loosen you up” every morning. In this case, there is something affecting your entire nervous system, and the muscles are reacting to whatever the problem is. Most often these are dietary/nutritional problems. If there is a lot of inflammation in your body, perhaps from eating too many processed vegetable fats such as corn, soy, safflower, and peanut oil, this can result in tight muscles throughout your body. Eating any amount of partially hydrogenated “trans” fats can also result in a similar problem. A high carbohydrate diet, especially one containing refined sugars, can also make your nervous system more stressed and your muscles feel tight. Too much caffeine, and especially the excitotoxins MSG and aspartame (Nutrasweet) often will give you the muscle aches and tightness along with many other health problems. Of course, stretching will not help any of these problems though it may provide temporary relief.
Hormonal imbalances can also make your nervous system react in such a way that you have muscular tightness and feel the need to stretch. Women who have estrogen dominance (and low progesterone), and men with low testosterone levels may experience a tight lower back and hip region, giving them the inclination to want to stretch those areas out. Thyroid and adrenal gland hormone imbalances can result in similar problems too.
Your fascia – the connective tissue that holds everything together in your body like Saran Wrap -can sometimes be tight because of an injury to the body but also due to low vitamin B12 levels. This is common in vegetarians who often lack B12 which is found in eggs and animal products. Also individuals under significant stress will lose the necessary intrinsic factor in the stomach needed to properly absorb B12 – resulting in tight connective tissue and muscles – and the need to stretch. As with the other cases, fixing the cause of the problem, in this case the stress situation or the B12 deficiency will “loosen up” the muscles, not stretching.
But what if you’re not injured? The same rules apply. Typical stretching routines will still weaken muscles and promote injury. Consider why you need to stretch. Or do you enjoy stretching and want to do it? Wanting to stretch because it is relaxing to you may be okay, if done properly, (as described below). Many stretches we were all taught in gym class and by our coaches are not only useless, they’re harmful. Joint instability and muscular weakness often results with many of these types of stretches – think about that Hurdlers Stretch – it’s perhaps the worst one out there.
Yoga? Let’s first say that yoga and stretching are not the same thing, yet many people associate the two because that is how it has unfortunately evolved in many areas. Most yoga classes today have students trying to force themselves into a yoga pose they are not ready to do and they overstretch. This is Westernized yoga and not the way it was intended to be. Yoga is intended to relax the entire body with certain poses and deep breathing resulting in inner harmony and focus on one’s self, not to stress your body out by stretching it in shapes you are not ready or able to do. So yoga may be beneficial if performed in a controlled fashion, within your means, and within the yoga philosophy.
Dancers and gymnasts are perhaps one exception to anti-stretching. For many of these individuals, stretching is necessary to some degree as their activities require a larger range of motion than is needed in order to perform their activities. The static stretching for these individuals should still be handled very carefully, ideally contracting the antagonist muscle to prevent overstretching. This would mean if a dancer was working on a bar and stretching his or her hamstrings, he or she would contract the quadriceps muscles, hold for up to thirty seconds, and repeat for at least three times. An active aerobic warm-up for at least 10 minutes is essential. However, I can say from my experience with professional dancers they always feel the need to stretch more than they need to because of underlying problems – most often dietary inadequacies, nutrient imbalances, and injuries make their muscles “more tight.” Once the underlying problems are resolved theses performers feel much more limber and less of a need to stretch, yet they’re much more flexible.
We associate flexibility with health. This is true to some extent but more does not necessarily mean better. If you can’t touch your toes while standing with your knees locked out it doesn’t mean you are not healthy. Sure there is a “normal” but it is hard to say what that is and it’s different for everybody. If you can’t touch your knees while bending forward you’ve got a problem somewhere – or too short of arms! More important is the balance and symmetry between muscles, including side to side. If your right leg can be stretched out to the side 90 degrees and your left can only go 80 degrees then that indicates a problem. You’re probably thinking the problem is on the left because that is how we were taught to think; but not necessarily so. Sometimes the area, in this case the leg, can be too flexible and once muscular and nervous system imbalances are corrected the 90 degree leg might only go to 80 degrees. And often when this happens the person feels more balanced and limber. So don’t think more is better. Balance is better.
Stretching may increase your flexibility, but you will most likely be weaker and the results are often short-lived. Saying that stretching reduces injuries or improves endurance performance, (the two main reasons given for stretching), is like saying certain shoes will make you run or jump faster. Many continue to make both these claims, yet neither has ever been proven, and many still buy the shoes and stretch with them on. Stretching is not exercise and not a warm-up before a run or any activity. Aerobic activity is the best warm-up as it increases flexibility in a safe way while improving oxygen utilization, lung capacity, and fat burning.
To quote Jack LaLanne, “Have you ever seen a lion stretch before it attacks?” Animals don’t [static] stretch in nature. I guess we can call their natural movements “dynamic stretching” but I prefer to call it natural movements. Moving naturally via natural range on motion is perfectly fine, and encouraged. However, if you’re performing these types of activities and you need to do several repetitions to “loosen up” then you should consider why that is so – there is some underlying muscle imbalance. High knees, butt kicks, and other similar exercises performed after an aerobic warm-up are natural movements; some feel they should be classified as “stretching.” Essentially, if you are moving well throughout the day you are always stretching to some degree.
So balance your muscles and your entire body by balancing your life with proper exercise, diet, and other lifestyle factors. Stop drinking that Kool-Aid propaganda and just say “No!” to stretching!
Check out the new 100% organic cotton American Apparel “Only Bozos Stretch” shirts.
10 Reasons Not To Stretch – Some funny and true, some funny and not all that true.
Update – January 2012: Here’s a good post at Sweat Science that discusses a 2010 study done at Florida State showing that trained distance runners became about 5% less efficient if they did static stretching before a run and a recent study done by the same group that suggests that dynamic stretching does not affect (good or bad) running endurance performance in trained male runners.
Great article Dr. Gangemi! Many of the pitfalls of stretching you mention are by doing static stretching before certain exercise. I know you said that dancers and gymnasts may do static stretching before their workout and after a general aerobic warm up, but what about martial artists(especially those that utilize powerful kicking technique)? Martial artists never need static flexibility but require dynamic use of their limbs with substantial force. Would you be opposed to dynamic leg and arm swings prior to a martial arts workout? And since dynamic flexibility can only be achieved within the range of static flexibility, would it be alright do practice static stretching after a martial arts workout? This is the flexibility theory of Tom Kurz in his book “Stretching Scientifically”, which cites much of the same information as you did in regards to static stretching and then explains how certain athletes can develop flexibility for their given sport. He also advises athletes to develop static flexibility by doing isometric and other strength exercises, and not by only stretching. Would something like this fit with your ideas about stretching and flexibility?
Yes, it is all individualized. Those exercises would be fine for martial artists or other individuals as long as they’re in a controlled fashion.
Chris Reynolds says
This is a very interesting article Dr. Gangemi and fits in with my experience working as a Osteopath and Physiotherapist for over 20 years. I have written a lot about stretching and flexibility in the article section of my website and blog . One problem I frequently encounter is people stretching areas that are in fact already over stretched. Over stretched muscles and tendon frequently “feel tight” to that individual. I like the way you qualify the difference between yoga and stretching.
One thing I like to do is roll on a black roller. I do this for my entire leg but in particular my IT bands. I don’t consider this stretching but would like your thoughts on this tool. Thanks!
It’s not necessarily a problem that you’re using that but if your ITBs are always tight and need to be rolled, then you’re not figuring out they problem. Often when I see someone with ITBS I never treat the band fascia directly.
Great article. I read it all. It is very thought provoking. I think I will give a shot at not-stretching. Question: that includes more normal stretching, like bending to touch your toes? I find that very relaxing every time I do it.
Moving in dynamic flowing motions, including touching your toes, is fine. But feeling the need to touch your toes because it loosens up your hamstrings (and holding that stretch) is not to a good idea.
Is there any exercises that will promote better flexability, that is what I am trying to achieve.
Natural movements (“exercise”), a healthy diet, and low stress allow the body to become naturally flexible.
Congratulations Dr. Gangemi, you became an adult with inherent flexibility, and so advocate others not stretch who may not have the same physical attributes. I presume that you recommend people with adequate strength not perform strength training as they age, because it may be detrimental as well? Sound like bad information? Please keep your advice to yourself or only those willing to visit your office and not on the internet for all to be misled.
Glen, thanks for your congratulations. Before you presume anything you should actually read more than perhaps a few lines of one post to see exactly what I have to say about stretching and strength training too. Bad information comes when someone, such as yourself, doesn’t agree with a certain perspective because they are unable to comprehend a different thought or idea (and one that is now well backed up with plenty of research), and then shares their ideas and advice with others based simply off their own experience, not hundreds, as I do. This site is clearly not for you.
Leonie Cent says
Hello Dr Gangemi – Yours is a great article about muscle stretching, and opened my eyes to the potential dangers of over-stretching muscles in isolation. The human body is a highly complex and inherently intelligent organism, with each aspect of it working in a synergistically – NOT every part of it working as a separate entity and in isolation from the rest – if one part is malfunctioning, the whole physiology suffers. Just think – when one experiences a traumatic or stressful situation, the autonomic nervous system is involved in producing flow-on symptoms, so that digestion (nausea, vomiting), perspiration, respiratory rate (hyperventilation), urination, tachycardia, and viral outbreaks such as Shingles (Herpes Zoster) will manifest themselves in many cases – our nervous system and immune system are closely linked, and it has been found that the heart has it’s own “brain” or neuron cells residing therein, as well as other areas like the spinal column. As you pointed out Dr Gangemi, the nervous system can, and does manifest itself in our muscular structure, possibly via the Autonomic Nervous System, I am not sure, but you could verify ?! So, for me, it isn’t hard to understand why something like forcing the muscles and ligaments and tedons etc. to work under such unnatural conditions – expecting them to work optimally whilst being contorted away from their natural positions, is quite a stupid practice, and would lead to many problems. It is assuming that there is a problem which is limited to, and within the muscle itself, and that the problem originated there. In fact, as you pointed out, this “problem” is the result of an imbalance elsewhere – probably the nervous system as you mentioned. Wouldn’t it seem reasonable to go back to the source of a problem ? And in the meantime, possibly perform gentle movements of some kind to help disperse any “stuck” energy, and thereby allow the body to heal itself with the right conditions. I am not a doctor or even any kind of therapist, nor am I even involved in the health care industry in any capacity except that of a personal researcher. However your articles make enormous sense to me. I think the guy called Glen who sent his angry message to you, is ignorant and narrow minded – probably some kind of defense mechanism because the truth is too scary to approach at this point in his life. If he were to have the courage to talk to you about his concerns and questions, in a civilised manner, maybe he would have his fears and confusion solved. He is of course entitled to his own viewpoint, but that does not make him right, and you wrong. When one has such a strong reaction to anything, or anyone in life, one should do a little soul searching, and find out what the emotion is REALLY about, because most times it is not caused by the catalyst itself – in this case, your article. Thanks again for an educational and enlightening article. All the best to you…. Leonie
Thank you Leonie, I appreciate the comments and yes your thinking is correct.
Wow! This was a very enlightening article. I was an athlete in high school, and frequently pulled muscles/had joint problems/shin splints…you name it. I am also very inflexible, perhaps due to genetics and short stature, but now I know it could also be thanks to my ill health. I stumbled across your website because I was researching CI, and I am excited to continue reading through your articles! I have suffered from chronic migraines since age 16, and at age 22, have finally discovered the link between nutrition and health. (duh!) How silly that no doctor, teacher, professor, etc. could have figured this out sooner for me.
Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for spreading your knowledge to everyone out there looking for answers. If you have any articles on migraines or headaches, please let me know! I have never had digestion issues, otherwise I probably would have tried changing my diet earlier than now. I have reduced my migraines from 15-20 a month to 2-3 a month, by cutting out gluten, malt, high-sugar foods, moldy foods (cheese, nuts, etc.), nitrites, most dairy, and most soy. There are more but I’m sure you get the gist!
Thanks Elaine – bit on migraines here: https://drgangemi.com/healthtopics/headaches/
I do not agree or disagree with your article. I find somethings to be right on and others I questions. There are forms of activities that I feel need some stretching before a workout. I recently recovered from Plantar Fasiitis and both my doctor and physical therapist said the reason for my injury is because I did NOT stretch before I played basketball. Now I usually do very little or no stretching as is but do perform warmup exercises before I work out now a days (Swinging of the arms, Jumping jacks, twisintg at the waist, etc…). As for static stretching I do have to static stretch my calfs. I box for 60 minutes a day and then 90 minutes on the treadmill walking at 4.0 incline and 4.0 speed. I find if I do not stretch my calfs will cramp up on my that night or the next day. If I go for 5 days on the treadmill (With stretching before and after) and then do not go on the treadmill for a couple days my Calfs start to tighten and tighten and tighten. They only loosen up when I finally stretch. What is your answer to that??
The message here is to figure out “why” you have to stretch. If you don’t stretch and you have problems, then something is not right. Something is causing those muscles work improperly and it has absolutely nothing to do with stretching. If it did, then you’d see improvements with your stretching – or should I say progress. You’re not. You can’t go a prolonged period without stretching even after you go a prolonged period with stretching.
You say if you do not stretch your legs cramp up. But then if you go 5 days with stretching before and after and then stop for a couple days they just tighten right up again. Basically they’re always tight because your nervous system is over-sympathetic. You might temporarily loosen up the muscles by stretching, but it is short lived.
And your doc and PT saying you got plantar fasciitis because you didn’t stretch? That’s too bad they still think that way. You might not agree with everything I say and that’s fine. But believing that stretching (especially the fascia) prior to exercise reduces or prevents injury is like still thinking eating eggs raises cholesterol. And actually, stretching (static) before a workout will increase your chance of injury more than not not stretching. And yeah, the research says so too, not just me.
I had the most horrenous case of plantar fascitis and it was caused by inflammation caused by gluten intolerance. I had a very poor gut so took out gluten. After 5 days, magically, the pain in my feet (a problem that left me incapacitated by the end of the day) was resolved. My gut is another story, but wated to share my experience.
I should mention Iwas just 28 years old at the time. No amount of stetchin would have helped me. :)
What are the best activities to achieve a long lean toned look. Especially for
women like me. My shoulders and arms can not get this look. They tend to bulk when I try to exercise with weights instead of a lean and toned appearance. So I stop and the breadth of my shoulder to shoulder area looks frumpyish and too round now. The decollete area as well as the back /slash shoulder blade area is underto ned Im a healthy 44 year old but my upper body had a mind of its own. It wont respond or Im not doing something right.
Check out the Fitness section here Linda as well as all the info over at sock-doc.com.
Charles Brown says
I find that most doctors have a much different view than yours. From personal experience and research however I agree with much of your views.This is still a new concept for me but makes sense people find it hard to believe traditional knowledge wrong.
I came across this article and had to comment. I have never stretched only dynamic stretches through martial arts training and exercise. I very rarely had injuries or pain. When I did start adding static stretching to my routine on the advice of many is when I started to get injuries. I agree with you 100%. Now all I use are dynamic stretches and my foam roller
Interesting article but some points are confusing to me–
Animals don’t [static] stretch in nature
?? Cats stretch, dogs stretch though they may not hold the position long enough to be considered a static stretch?
“… you go 5 days with stretching before and after and then stop for a couple days they just tighten right up again…You might temporarily loosen up the muscles by stretching, but it is short lived”
?Again not clear that this is the case. From personal experience, I find that my flexibility improves over time. For instance, if I do the splits after a workout. You are training your muscles. If you don’t run or weight lift for a week, don’t you find it more difficult to begin again? Would you call that slide in ability temporary and proof of the fact that your weight training is ineffective? I’m not sure I understand the reasoning. Anyone who stops training for 5 days (unless they have been overtraining) will experience some decline. Similarly you would expect a slight decline in flexibility. The slight improvements may be harder to gauge though since they won’t manifest themselves in a shorter race time or bigger muscles.
“you will most likely be weaker” – is the only goal of fitness to be buff? Flexibility can help with agility and is useful in certain types of physical activities beyond dancing and gymnastics.
Hi Dr Gangemi…I’m wondering what your take is on strength training in a gym (but without the stretching). Thanks!
Hi Kim – read this: http://sock-doc.com/2012/01/sock-doc-training-principles/ as well as the info I have on MovNat at the Sock Doc site :)
Hi, I have a chronic condition called familial spastic paraplegia, the main non drug treatment of which is stretching my leg muscles. Do you consider that this is just a ‘duck and cover’ approach and holds no benefit ?
Hi Grace, that’s a good question. I can’t personally comment on your condition since I haven’t seen a patient with such problem but I’d say if stretching keeps you active and replaces drugs then I’d certainly see a “benefit” here. Of course though it is not actually addressing the problem – which is the main point of my article, as people who feel the need to stretch, as you do, are addressing the symptoms.
So what’s your treatment for plantar fascitis? Seems like most people rid themselves of PF by stretching? Or so they say.
I disagree with this article completely, I have found stretching has given me much more strength and flexibility. I would love to see your reference or proof of your claims that stretching is bad for you.
Typically when people want “proof” it is just to support what they already believe in, and if I put up a lot of research it won’t matter to you because you say you have had so much success with stretching. Actually, the point of the article is figuring out WHY you need to stretch, more than why you shouldn’t. There is a reference at the end and an easy pubmed search provides more stretching references.
Thankyou for the article.what do you think of tai chi and chi gang as exercise routines?
They’re good as supplemental routines to your aerobic and anaerobic activities. (Note: Chi Gong)
I am a woman with a serious issue with inflexibility in my groin, both sides. This makes it difficult to sit “Indian Style” and even having sexual intercourse, comfortably. I have become almost obsessed with doing research on this matter, as it affects my life so greatly, but in all the research I have done I have never heard about not stretching and/or diet possibly being linked to this issue. What could be causing my groin inflexibility? Btw, I am able to touch my toes, even touch the ground with both palms flat. Guess you could assume that my arms are long?
A number of things could – such as muscle imbalances in the pelvic region which can occur from hormonal imbalances (in other words, estrogen dominance can cause the muscle issues of the hips which results in flexibility loss), as well as mobility problems from improper, or inadequate exercise.
I really like to see someone approaching the stretching concept by taking it the the core “why” of stretching. I completely tore the outer ligament of my left ankle 8 years ago and have been dealing with issues throughout my ankle, knee and hip ever since. Yoga has been a HUGE help to me, but only through very slow and patient instruction of my boyfriend over the past 4 years. The stretches my physical therapist assigned me for the first 6 months or so helped work me back into a functioning shape, but after that I found anything they assigned me to be detrimental.
Pulling away from the stretching of the injured muscles and focusing on strengthening the core of the leg around it through delicate natural exercise (very low soled shoes, very close to the natural state of being barefoot, and low impact without any use of machinery) helped to properly prepare it for normal use again (finally!).
Glad to hear that Jenn. In my upcoming book this “don’t stretch” concept will be greatly expanded upon.
I am 58 years old. A couple of years ago, my kids took us to an indoor gymnastics arena. One of the stations involved straddling a long tube like an oversized oil drum on its side. I was shocked I couldn’t straddle the tube without stressing the leg tendons going to the groin (whatever they’re called) — similar to Amb comment above. That was a wake-up call to do more stretching.
The benefits of stretching, especially as you grow older, include avoiding accidental injury from over-extension.
The studies you referred to only look at the very very short term effect of (static) stretching immediately before an athletic performance. They do not address the effect of stretching the night before, or immediately following, or the effect over time of stretching versus non-stretching. In reality, little or no research has been conducted on stretching other than what you mentioned. (Dynamic/static stretching, and warm up — all studied only right before, nothing else).
Not all exercises help flexibility. If your routines cover all the flexibility issues that’s awesome.
I am a long jumper that does alot of sprint training and id never do static stretching before hand because you do feel like your legs are strained after a good static stretch. i’ve started doing it properly after every session which is 5-6 times a week and i find my legs recover alot better and i avoid tightness while performance has actually gotten better…so i hope that info will help you in any further studies.
I am so thankful I came across this article. I thought my leg muscles were painful because they needed stretching. After reading this, I started taking vitamin B complex and in only two weeks, the pain has disappeared. I can walk uphill pain-free. Just to be completely honest, I am also taking Blackstrap Molasses for added minerals. I still have pain in my heels and hope that might also be remedied in time with increased vitamin and mineral intake.
Static stretching before exercise does not lead to better performances but stretching post exercise is a must. I do sport professionally and it would be impossible to perform at a high level without static stretching often. If you don’t you will tighten and you will lose performance.