Several years ago, a series of studies in the field of fitness appeared that brought into question the effectiveness of stretching. While a large number of scientists, as well as coaches and athletes, continue to entertain the idea of the apparent value of stretching exercises in the training program.

Therefore, today we propose to understand the essence of this debate, to study the arguments of the parties, and you can decide for yourself how stretching can be useful in achieving your sports goals.

Disagreements over to stretch or not to stretch before and/or after the training have long historical context. Thus, stretching exercises began practising in the times of ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.

And the history of yoga with its asana, which requires considerable flexibility, harks far back. This is time to speak that stretching muscles and ligaments became an important part of sports training about 2000 years ago at the very least. Today, stretching is an integral component of most training programs. This tactic is quite logical; after all, if the muscle fibres and tendons are strained, then this makes them more pliable, flexible and the probability of being injured during intensive training is reduced.

However, studies that have been conducted over the past 15 years have not found a significant positive effect of stretching on injury prevention, performance improvement and muscle soreness after exercise.

Moreover, several tests showed that, if training is about strength sports, stretching, on the contrary, reduces that explosive yield in the eccentric phase of movement «tight» muscles is capable of.

As a result, in the sciences society, the idea that static stretching is a waste of time has become increasingly popular. At the same time, with regard to the uselessness of dynamic stretching, doing which muscles stretch through a certain range of motion, there were no convincing arguments.

This gives us a reason to assume that there is no single answer question how to stretch right, for whom precisely it will be useful and how much time to devote to this activity. Let us get all this straightened out in details.

Static stretching: Pros and Cons

A recent study by scientists from the United States, Canada, Australia, and Britain gives reason to believe that it is harsh to give up on the effectiveness of stretching.

So, after analyzing about 200 studies on this topic, they found that the loss of muscle power as a result of static stretching occurs only when stretching during exercise is held for too long (more than 60 seconds), and the intense physical activity immediately follows.

While most people do not stretch in one posture for longer than 60 seconds, and after stretching, they still work on warming up muscles for a while before going directly to training. As a result, stretching causes no negative impact on the quality of the subsequent training.

In addition, evidence was found, based on physiological data, that stretching for less than 5 minutes does not cause any damage to the muscle tissue at all.

In addition, it is worth noting that many studies on stretching do not take into account the fact that most gym-goers perform a comprehensive warm-up, beyond stretching.

Such a flaw is also common when the participants tested in the study perform the stretch for much longer than they usually do during regular training.

In this regard, it is very important to critically evaluate the results of any research in the field of rehabilitation and training. This applies not only to coaches, fitness professionals, sports professionals, but also amateurs.

Before you make any changes to your training program, analyze how the results and conclusions of a particular study relate specifically to your situation and the kinds of sports that you practice.

Stretching: When does it make sense?

Despite many disagreements between theorists and practitioners regarding stretch or not to stretch, you can come to three completely accurate conclusions at the moment:

  1. Stretching in varying degrees is necessary for different athletes. Therefore, carefully examine your fitness needs.

Experts agree that the question of the need for stretching is a question of preserving healthy connective tissue, which is ready to adapt physiologically to the assigned task.

This means that the specificity of stretching sessions is determined by a variety of factors, including the level of hydration, the degree of human mobility, the amount of rest, and pH balance.

For example, if you are engaged in a sport that requires flexibility, then you should stretch to provide the necessary range of motion. Let us assume that you are a rower, and you are faced with the task of providing a sweeping movement of your hips in order to get the desired stroke length; then you definitely need to stretch your leg muscles and popliteal ligaments. However, if you are engaged in a sport that does not place high demands on flexibility, then it is probably better to devote your time to the warm-up and hitch to aspects that are more relevant.

  1. Stretching can ease muscle soreness.

In science terms, this effect is insignificant. However, the placebo effect, which accompanies the expected improvements, is much more significant: when a person who does stretching is convinced that this technique will ease post-training muscle pain.

In addition, stretching helps restore blood circulation, increase blood flow and is generally beneficial in helping to regulate the range of motion of a joint.

After all, if the muscle tissue is too dense, then this may limit the movement of the elements of the joint, forcing it to work improperly. In turn, this can lead to an imbalance of muscle development and muscle pain from the wrong posture.

  1. Stretching is good for a good mood.

If stretching makes you feel better, and then do it. Scientists proved a long time ago that there is a complex interdependency between thinking and physiological effectiveness. Therefore, if the stretch, either dynamic or static, works in your case if you feel its positive influence; do not miss the chance to attend the next stretching session.

Practice and experiment with the duration and type of stretch. In addition, paying attention to these or other stretching techniques, still, try to take into account your strategic sports priorities.

GUEST POST BY: Melisa Marzett has begun writing since she was 10. She has always wanted to be a writer. She writes for all the time and hopes to write books one she feels ready for it. She has been writing under her name and continues to do so. More information and some of her previously written articles can be found at her page on Google.