Stretching


Anybody have a good sense for the scientific evidence for and against the utility of stretching for injury prevention and/or rehabilitation? My forays into PubMed have left me scratching my head.

Comments

  1. Brian Ogilvie says

    Alex Hutchinson provides a brief review of the evidence in Which Comes FIrst, Cardio or Weights (New York: Harper, 2011), p. 121ff. A CDC review of stretching studies, published in 2004, concluded that there was no evidence that static stretching reduced injuries (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15076777); a 2008 review reached the same conclusion (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18785063).

    Hutchinson also cites evidence that static stretching significantly weakens muscles and concludes that the evidence suggests that the best warmup involves dynamic stretching, with motions imitating the activity one is about to do, or simply beginning the activity slowly to warm up. One of the problems that he mentions with earlier studies on stretching is that they failed to distinguish between stretching in particular and warming up in general; warming up is associated with reduced risk of injury. I’ve started to warm up for my runs by walking briskly, then doing a few high steps and heel kicks, and then jogging slowly for a few seconds before picking up the pace.

    Finally, Hutchinson cites a few studies showing that stretching makes no difference to post-exercise recovery from DOMS or to subsequent performance (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3959868; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16075781; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21735398; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19967603).

    Gretchen Reynolds addresses some of this research in her 2012 book The First Twenty Minutes, but unlike Hutchinson, she doesn’t provide citations. (He gave author, title, and publication data; I looked up the PubMed references because they were easier to cut and paste.)

  2. Namnezia says

    Or if there is any scientific explanation for why stretching first thing in the morning feels so fucking good.

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