Stretch Before That Workout? Maybe Not!

Everyone knows that you should stretch before physical exercise. It turns out that everyone might just be
wrong. New research seems to indicate that stretching can actually reduce your strength without providing any immunity from injury. Wait, what?

Stretching seems harmless. Holding a stress position that extends large muscle groups seems like an obvious way to prepare the muscles for rigorous use. And how often are muscle pulls or strains blamed on not stretching before working out?

Two recent research studies took on measuring the results of stretching before exercise. One study found that stretching reduced overall strength by 5.5% and the other study found strength decreased by 8.3%.  These results were independent of people’s age, sex, or physical fitness. The only time stretching did not have negative effects was when the stretching period was less than 45 seconds.

What can be done? Static stretching seems to decrease power without delivering
any benefits. Dynamic stretching, however, seems to help. Dynamic stretching involves moving the body through the motions of the anticipated strenuous exercise, but without any weight or resistance. This helps stimulate blood flow and increases tissue temperature, delivering resistance to injury without decreasing muscle strength.

So maybe consider some light exercises before weight lifting, like squat thrusts or jumping jacks. Just leave those “stretch and hold” positions in the closet with your Nehru jackets.

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