2

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Evidence that pre workout stretching decreases injury?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 25, 2011 at 3:39 AM

A while back, I was reading about some studies in which they tried to find evidence for the commonly held assumption that stretching before exercise decreases the liklihood of injury. They used men in boot camp as guinea pigs. Some stretched and some didn't before heavy workouts. They found no statistical diff in injury rate between the two groups. I realize the control group was not perfect but still the outcome is interesting.. HOwever, unfortunately, I have long forgot where I read about that study.

The same people doing the study said they were also not able to find any other research scientifically showing evidence that stretching before exercise decreased injury rate. They surmised this may be something that everyone assumes but that may not actually be true. Of course, it all sounds very logical that stretching would help you, but does anyone have any scientific evidence for this long held assumption that stretching before exercise decreases injury rate?

9e7039b63b656582f66d84c5255b436d

(1132)

on February 10, 2011
at 11:52 AM

I've never seen a lion cock it's leg up against a tree before going out to hunt, however cats in general do stretch quite a bit just in general.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 25, 2011
at 04:18 PM

If the goal is only range of motion, then seems to me that postworkout stretching would be safer and yield faster improvements.

5514047f3281f61b1139fe6483ae6989

(315)

on January 25, 2011
at 04:26 AM

In the body building world, static stretching preworkout is a big no-no. They believe it decreases strength. As for studies and hard evidence, there's a chapter in The 4-Hour Body about Barry Ross' training techniques and how he doesn't believe in stretching, or even really warming up, and he's done some incredible things with his trainees.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 25, 2011
at 04:10 AM

Yes, I agree, it sounds logical but does it really help, that is the question! And yep, I was thinking about that too, ie potential for injury during the actual stretching might negate benefits. PLus there are probably issues as to what kind of stretching is done and what kind of post stretching exercise is done. But still, weird that there seems no good evidence for any of it!

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4 Answers

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3
89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 25, 2011
at 04:35 PM

Short answer: stretching does not prevent injury. There is indeed no evidence (sorry, no time for references).

So why would you stretch?

Ah, to get long and lean muscles!

But, why do you need those?

That needs a more complicated answer...

On the level of the individual, stretching could be beneficial. If you are a karate fighter with mobility problems in the hamstrings, this could lead to problems.

Now how do you change muscle length? By using the muscle in the appropriate range of motion or position. This could include stretching, but it probably is more effective to use the muscle actively. A muscle will more likely change it's length (add telomeres in length or change connective tissue) this way.

The example of the hamstrings: deadlifting with proper form, until you feel tension in the hamstrings is probably more effective than a static hamstring stretch.

If you want to really change length of tissue and range of motion, you have to think about several months. But again, you have to ask yourself the question: 'why would this muscle need to be longer?'

Remember, some muscles a too long (think gluts e.g.). You can change this by doing the exact opposite of the above...

Hope this makes sense.

1
4650b9a0b48f74789e6dc5733a18aafd

on February 10, 2011
at 07:04 AM

Pre workout ballistic stretching has shown to be effective 2/2 the increase in muscle spindle activity. one could think about ballistic stretching as like priming the pump for dynamic plyometric activity. I agree with the response that post workout static is effective for overall ROM at the muscle. for those smaller local stabilizer or local mobilzer muscle I feel self mobilizations will help both increase tight capsules if present but also stretch out any muscle in the surrounding tissue.

1
9c215d66a663fbae3a16cf5515889d7f

(260)

on January 25, 2011
at 03:37 PM

Based on everything I've read, it just doesn't make sense to stretch cold muscles. If one is going to stretch, it should be after the muscles are warmed up. Where I think stretching is most useful from a performance perspective is in helping to increase range of motion - where the person needs to increase their range of motion. Years ago when I was into bike racing, I wasn't able to stay in a good position on the bike because my hamstrings were too tight - I couldn't even touch my toes. After a few weeks of working on stretching them out, I was able to get into a much better position comfortably. Similarly, a martial artist who can't get a kick high enough to kick someone in the head would be at a disadvantage if they needed to kick someone in the head.

At the same time, being overly flexible can decrease joint stability. I suspect this is pretty rare though. I did read that Tiger Woods had to be careful with this years ago - I think he was hyper-flexible in his shoulders and did a lot of strength work to protect them.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 25, 2011
at 04:18 PM

If the goal is only range of motion, then seems to me that postworkout stretching would be safer and yield faster improvements.

1
5672b2d190891342389e764cc4056ca9

(1304)

on January 25, 2011
at 04:04 AM

I suspect that static stretching before exercise can cause injury. It makes a lot of sense to warm up muscles before pulling them.

Many articles claim that stretching before exercise actually decreases performance. Just one:

http://www.brianmac.co.uk/articles/article027.htm

I believe warm up + flexibility movements before exercise are essential to prevent injury. I never skip them, and do static stretching only at the end of my workout. I never noticed any difference when I forget (in terms of pain, stiffness, or slower recovery), but I still do it as a cool-down and balance routine.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 25, 2011
at 04:10 AM

Yes, I agree, it sounds logical but does it really help, that is the question! And yep, I was thinking about that too, ie potential for injury during the actual stretching might negate benefits. PLus there are probably issues as to what kind of stretching is done and what kind of post stretching exercise is done. But still, weird that there seems no good evidence for any of it!

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