If you’ve ever run with a dog or watched a horse race, you’ll notice that other animals don’t stretch before or after they run.
Although most people have been stretching since their middle school gym class to prevent injuries, improve exercise performance, and reduce muscle soreness, the research on stretching tells a different story.
(1) Stretching doesn’t prevent injuries for activities that don’t include bouncing movements, like running, cycling, and swimming. If the activity includes explosive or bouncing movements, stretching can reduce injuries by increasing compliance of tendons and improving their ability to absorb energy.
(2) Stretching can prevent muscle injuries, such as sprains and strains, but not bone or joint injuries.
(3) Stretching doesn’t improve exercise performance. You won’t run faster or longer by stretching before you run. Research on stretching before strength training has shown a reduction in strength performance due to a decrease in muscles’ ability to contract.
(4) Stretching doesn’t decrease post-workout muscle soreness. Soreness comes from the inflammation in response to the microscopic damage to muscle fibers from training. Stretching doesn’t make muscle fibers heal any quicker, so stretching won’t make you feel less sore.
(5) The major benefit of stretching is to increase mobility and flexibility—a joint’s range of motion—thereby priming muscles to move dynamically through their full ranges of motion. When stretching to increase flexibility, doing it apart from your workout makes it even more effective.
Learn more about stretching and everything else at revo2lutionrunning.com