Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Study Spotlight: A Conclusion on Stretching?

30-40 years ago we were all told to stretch as a warm up (well not all of us but its what I've been told) to prevent injury.  For the last 15 years or so we were told that stretching was going to wreck our performance and that we should avoid it pre-workout like the plague and instead replace it with 'dynamic warm-ups'.  Well a group of researchers decided to dig through it all and see what came out the other end.

What They Did: 
This group of researchers reviewed hundreds of articles related to the effects of stretching from over the past 15 years to see if there was a consensus on what we should actually be doing.

What They Found:
The findings of this review help shed some light on what type of stretching should be performed and when but it also stays very neutral and maybe for good reason.  Overall the review of studies showed that when static stretching was incorporated with a good aerobic warm up and other movement practice that it was not detrimental to performance (no significant difference).  The review showed that there is not a clear cut answer on when and how you should be stretching and that we should be careful on what we read as some studies were set up to give stretching a bad name.

What It All Means:
So now what?  Should you stretch before you workout or should you wait until after you work out?  This is where movement, performance and training moves into becoming an art and it isn't always just based on science.  The reviewers did a good job with their recommendation by incorporating a lot of different modalities into their warm up suggestion and I think that is the key.  Nothing will work perfectly in isolation and the challenge people face in their own workouts or coaching others is finding what works best for them.  It brings us back to our test and retest philosophy and making sure you are keeping detailed notes on what works for you and what doesn't.

Don't all your eggs in one basic.  Stretch when you need to but make sure you body is physically ready and warmed up for it.  If it helps you feel better and perform your best get creative and make your warm up fit you.

  1. David Behm, Anthony Blazevich, Anthony Kay and Malachy McHugh. Systematic Review: Acute Effects of Muscle Stretching on Physical Performance, Range of Motion and Injury Incidence in Healthy Active IndividualsApplied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, December 2015 DOI: 10.1139/apnm-2015-0235

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