When Not To Stretch

Stretching each day is extremely important for flexibility and can provide a wide range of benefits both physically and mentally. However, there are many myths and misconceptions about the importance and usefulness of stretching. In fact, sometimes stretching is not the best thing to do. This includes:

  • Before professional sport

Recent research has concluded that static stretching is good for increasing flexibility but not suitable for warm-ups before any sort of sport that requires short bursts of power (e.g. sprinting, throwing, lifting, etc).

Stretching before a sprint race will reduce speed. Photo Credit: TexasEagle via Compfight cc
Stretching before a sprint race will reduce speed.
Photo Credit: TexasEagle via Compfight cc

This is because statically stretching a muscle only lengthens it and decreases tension. If you think of the muscle as a rubber band, static stretching before a sporting event or power exercise like weight lifting will make the muscle less elastic and actually proves to make you less powerful.
For a good alternative for a warm-up, try dynamic stretching.

  • When you’re cold

As Stretchy the Sun would say – “Stretching cold muscles isn’t cool. A hot tip is to warm them up first.” Stretching cold means there is less blood flow and less range of movement and this can cause excess tension that can lead to pulled or strained muscle injuries.

Stretchy The Sun - Unofficial campaign mascot that I just made up. Photo Credit: aarongilson via Compfight cc
Stretchy The Sun – Unofficial campaign mascot that I just made up.
Photo Credit: aarongilson via Compfight cc

A simple warm-up like jogging on the spot or doing some jumping jacks will mean less chance of injury and more efficient and effective stretches.

  • To get rid of DOMS

While stretching a muscle that feels tight and tense can feel very relieving, unfortunately it won’t help alleviate the pain of delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. DOMS is the soreness felt in muscles that occurs after exercise, particularly after intense, new or eccentric contraction exercising.

Recent studies have proven that stretching won’t help ease the pain of DOMS and might actually keep you feeling sorer longer. Unfortunately there isn’t much you can do to get rid of DOMS except wait and rest.

One thought on “When Not To Stretch

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