Stretching has become an integral aspect of injury prevention and physical activity. Most of us stretch because we believe it helps to loosen up our muscles, elongating them, and allowing more flexibility in our joints during exercise.
This concept was investigated recently (published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Sports Medicine) where the authors examined three groups:
- Stretching before physical activity
- Warm up before physical activity, and
- No stretching or warm up before physical activity.
They found that in the stretching group, there was no significant difference on injury prevalence between those who stretched and those who didn’t. In other words, they found no substantial evidence to suggest that to stretch before physical activity prevents injuries, contrary to common belief.
Interestingly, the authors of the same study showed warming up before physical activity correlated with a reduced injury occurrence rate. So perhaps the old star jumps and ball drills before a game and jogging around the oval was of use after all. They argue logically that muscles have a universal role, and it is to contract. Therefore, they would need good blood supply for the delivery of oxygen and energy. If they lack these key ingredients, the muscles become ischemic (lacking circulation), which makes them more vulnerable to damage.
So what is the verdict? Is stretching any good at all? Of course! This study only looked at its relevance before physical activity. It helps to keep our bodies flexible and this aides in the prevention of muscular and joint related injuries. It is also useful in correcting muscle imbalances and dysfunctions.
If you have any further questions or would like to discuss a stretching program suitable to your work or physical activities, please feel free to contact Alpha Physiotherapy and book an appointment on (07) 3279 3871.