Myth Busters: It's Important to Stretch before Exercise
For many years it was believed that performing static stretches before exercising reduced your risk of injury. However research has shown that this is not the case.
Static stretching is a method of stretching where you gradually lengthen your muscles and tendons by holding your body in a certain position for approximately 30 seconds. An example of this might be a hamstring stretch (see below). This type of stretching is useful in improving flexibility and muscle function.
A study completed in Norway that had over 1000 participants found that there was little to no reduction in injury risk when stretching was performed before exercise. Research has shown that performing a warm up made up of dynamic stretches can increase body awareness, strength and neuromuscular control which reduces the risk of injury.
Dynamic stretching is a type of stretching where you gradually lengthen muscles and tendons and also warm them up by moving your joint through a range of motion similar to the activity you are about to perform. For example if you are about to go for a walk/run/cycle performing leg swings can be beneficial (see below).
Static stretching is still important to perform after you exercise. This can help in easing muscle soreness caused by Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS) which can occur 24-48 hours after an exercise session. It is a good idea to perform these stretches in your cool down, focusing on the areas of your body that you worked most.
So if you’ve been doing static stretches as part of your warm up at the gym or on the field maybe swap it for some dynamic stretches and save the static stretches for your cool down.
If you would like to learn or know more about what stretches are most beneficial for you as an individual get in contact with Emily our Exercise Physiologist here at Institute of Sports and Spines!
Written by Emily Holzberger
Qualifications: B. ExSS Majoring in Clinical ExPhys.
Resource: ABC Health and Wellbeing, 2014