The ongoing health debate out there is heating up – to stretch or not to stretch? Scientific evidence is now starting to shed some interesting light on this debate
More studies are now showing that stretching immediately before exercise does not prevent injury. The key appears to be individualized stretching on a regular basis to specific muscles and joints which are restricted on a particular person. This would mean one to two light stretches every other hour throughout the day. There is a growing body of evidence that is pointing towards this stretching being functional to the demands of a persons sport or activity as well as the individual body concerns of the athlete. For example those people with muscle and joint flexibility imbalances have been shown to be more prone to injury. Re-establishing strength and flexibility balance may decrease injuries in these individuals.
Stretching immediately prior to exercise has been shown to reduce force and power by about 2 to 5% so it might not be wise to stretch prior to a power workout yet this thought must be balanced with the evidence that regular stretching over weeks has been shown to increase force and power by this same amount and improve the speed of runners during testing.
One is encouraged to listen to their body as well as request the assistance of their health care professional such as your physiotherapist to help determine if you have muscle strength and flexibility imbalances. This will help you determine if stretching is appropriate for you as well as determine what are the most effective individualized stretches for your body and your sport.