To stretch or not to stretch, that is the question. At least it has been lately with the science of stretching being called into question. Think touching those toes is the best way to prep for a run? It might be time to rethink that pre-workout ritual. New research suggests good old-fashioned stretching isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Instead, mobility might just be the key to unlocking our bodies’ true potential, bringing us closer to peak performance.
Stretching The Truth
It all started back in middle school phys ed. Somewhere amidst the countless games of dodge ball and awkward locker room moments was our first encounter with static stretching. Bend down, try to touch the floor, and count to 10. Easy enough. From there we’d round out the warm-up with some rudimentary calisthenics and voilà: no injuries or soreness!
Trouble is, there’s little evidence to support that scenario. That’s not to say that static stretching is a bad thing, just that it may not live up to the lofty claims. For instance, in an effort to better understand the link between stretching and soreness researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia reviewed 12 different studies completed in the past 25 years. They concluded that, “stretching does not produce important reductions in muscle soreness in the days following exercise.” Similarly, Robert D. Herbert, a researcher who participated in the review, also found static stretching wasn’t a safeguard against injury. According to Herbert, stretchers and non-stretchers experienced about the same number of sports-related injuries.