I don't know why there are separate titles, honestly.
February 19, 2011 10:14 AM Subscribe
Does stretching (before/after exercise) actually help in any measurable way at all?
posted by tylerkaraszewski to health & fitness (18 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I, like many of us, probably had to do "calisthenics" back in high school P.E. that consisted largely of various stretches with no particularly obvious goal.
Recently, due to a leg injury, I've been contemplating what stretching is actually supposed to help with, and whether it really makes any noticeable differences. It seems that the obvious goal of stretching is to increase flexibility, but why flexibility itself would something worth increasing is a bit of a mystery. Sure, some activities require it, like yoga or gymnastics (or rehabilitating an injured leg), but many others don't, including many that we did in P.E. in high school, like running and basketball, which can be done just fine with a normal, everyday range of motion.
So I went to the internet to see if I could find out if stretching really had many benefits. It seems the main goals of stretching are to increase flexibility and to reduce the chance of injury while exercising. From the few studies I found, it looks like stretching (at least for runners) doesn't reduce the chances of injury by any significant amount. Further, it seems pre-run stretching actually hinders performance during the run.
Is there any (non-anecdotal) evidence that stretching is good for anything except being more flexible (or even for that, really)? Is there any reason to value high flexibility outside of activities like yoga that require it?
Why stretch at all instead of just spending more time on your workout?