Stretching Myths and Truths

There was a time when gym teachers, coaches, and fitness trainers told us that we must stretch before we exercise to prevent injury; however, times have changed. There is no research that indicates that static stretching before exercising prevents injury. So why and when should we stretch?

Stretching feels so good (if done within tolerance) and there is a lot of benefit to stretching, so I am not saying it shouldn’t be a part of your health and fitness routine. Stretching helps with relaxation, circulation and it improves the range of motion (ROM) of our joints when it is done consistently. When we have better ROM of our joints, we move more efficiently; however, if you have too much flexibility (also known as “hypermobility”), you could be at risk for instability and possible injury. A movement specialist can help assess to see if you have any hypermobility.

Static stretches, where you continuously hold a position, are safe to do after exercising when your muscles are warm. A health practitioner may also prescribe static stretches if there is loss of ROM, for instance, post-surgery or post-injury. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that static stretches be held at the point of slight tension for 10-30 seconds, repeated 2-4 times, at a frequency of >2-3 x/week for 3-12 weeks in order to see improvements in flexibility. Consistency is key. If you are trying to improve your flexibility, you must commit to your stretches! Dynamic stretches, where you stretch as you move, are recommended prior to recreational activities as they usually mimic the activity, warm up your muscles, and increase your heart rate. 

Please watch out for our Stretching and Hip Openers E-Guide (coming soon!), one way to learn how stretching can be a part of your fitness journey! And be sure to stretch with your dog today, Happy National Dog Day!

- Andi

Registered Physiotherapist and Kinesiologist

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