Consider this post a RightPundits public service announcement. There is absolutely no evidence that stretching prior to exercise actually does any good, and may actually be harmful. The British Daily Mail has an article that should change your exercise routine. Not only does stretching NOT help, it may actually hurt by creating micro-tears in the muscle fibers.
Their suggestion? Warm up slowly before to get circulation going and cool down afterward to get rid of muscle waste products.
…a number of studies in the last few years have cast doubt on the efficacy of stretching, some even suggesting that it may cause more problems than it solves.
Having more pliable muscles, they say, could increase the risk of strains, while stretching can cause tiny tears in muscle tissue.
The latest analysis does not study the effect of stretching on injury prevention, but on muscle soreness after exercise.
A team from the University of Sydney compiled the results of ten small scientific trials, each involving between 10 and 30 people.
These had examined the effects of stretching between 40 seconds and 600 seconds before exercise.
“The 10 studies produced very consistent findings,” said Dr Robert Herbert, from the school of physiotherapy at the university, in the journal Cochrane Review.
“They showed there was minimal, or no effect, on the muscle soreness experienced between half a day and three days after the physical activity.”
He added: “The available evidence suggests that stretching before or after exercise does not prevent muscle soreness in young healthy adults.”
Using a 100 point scale to assess stiffness after exercise, most of the trials found that stretching reduced soreness by less than one point.
The size of the effect was similar if stretching was performed before or after exercise.
The studies were also based on fit, healthy young adults. The researchers say more work is needed to find out if stretching can help older, less fit people.
Dr Polly McGuigan, an expert in exercise and sport at Bath University, agreed there was no evidence that stretching muscles did any good before exercising
“In fact there is some evidence that pre-exercise stretching could do some harm,” she said.
“There is no really good explanation out there for why stretching could reduce post-exercise aches and injuries, or improve performance.
“For recreational athletes, the important thing to do is to warm up, rather than stretch.
“That means starting off with some gentle exercise, such as spending ten minutes on a rowing machine or jogging at a slower pace. That gets the circulation going.”
Any exercise session should end with a cooling down period to help get rid of waste products from the muscles, she added.
For those of you that don’t exercise, then START!
For those of you that don’t heed my warning and still want to stretch, here’s a Rice Unviersity site on how to do it right: Stretching