NYT Item Says No! To Stretching (Or To Static Stretching, At Least)

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    Sep 01, 2010 7:59 PM GMT
    Apparently, stretching does nothing to decrease injuries and does tend to impede a runner's performance. But what about the benefits of being limber?

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/01/phys-ed-does-stretching-before-running-prevent-injuries/?WT.mc_id=MG-SM-E-FB-SM-LIN-DSB-090110-NYT-NA&WT.mc_ev=click

    I'm not offering this up for any other reason than to hear the experts debate. I'm not invested in any particular view and would love to hear what you guys have to say.
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    Sep 01, 2010 10:21 PM GMT
    Very interesting article, and timely since we were just talking about this before football practice on Sunday.

    I wondered if it was more important for older people to stretch and if the research focused primarily on competitive athletes. The study in this article mentions age ranges from "13 to past 60," so it pretty much covers that.

    One thing left out of the article is (static) stretching AFTER a workout.

    Like the OP, I await informed words of wisdom.

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    Sep 01, 2010 11:59 PM GMT
    The Times ran a similar article sometime back and did indeed say that stretching after a workout was more effective than before. That article referred to lifting weights, as I recollect, and said that warming up with lighter weights was far more effective in avoiding injury than stretching.
  • Bunjamon

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    Sep 02, 2010 1:12 AM GMT
    All of the coaches I've ever had have said NEVER stretch before you've had a chance to warm up. Don't stretch before you lift weights or run or swim; jog for 5-10 minutes, swim 400 meteres, or do a very light set, all to get the blood flowing, and then do some very light stretching. Their reasoning was that stretching cold muscles isn't going to do anything, whereas stretching warmer muscles that already have increased blood flow will help lengthen the muscle. Deep stretching was always left until after the workout was completed.

    I find stretching after a workout a good way to relax, whether it has benefits for my muscles or not.
  • shirty

    Posts: 290

    Sep 02, 2010 1:26 AM GMT
    For whatever reason I've always felt this order makes the most sense:

    1) Warm-up: 5-10 mins of cardio, getting the bloodflow to the entire body.
    2) Strength training: whatever workout you're doing that day.
    3) Stretching: helps the body cool down and returns the heartrate to normal, while lengthening the muscles and clearing out toxins in the tissue.

    Anything else doesn't make sense to me! But to each their own.
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    Sep 02, 2010 4:54 AM GMT
    First, they didn't list a sample size to prove their statistics are anywhere near valid.
    Second, they admitted that those who did not stretch got more injuries, but made an excuse for why.
    Third, three months is not long enough to determine long-term effects of stretching vs not stretching.

    That study needs a few more years of work.
  • rdberg1957

    Posts: 662

    Sep 02, 2010 5:12 AM GMT
    I do both static and active isolated stretching and prefer active isolated by far. I don't know whether it reduces injuries or not, but my whole body feels better when I stretch and is less sore when I do active isolated stretching. Stretching is important for daily mobility and performance. I stretch after a cardio or strength training workout, usually about 4x/week for about 20 minutes to stretch hips, flexors, pirisformis, lower back, hamstrings, quads and calves.
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    Sep 02, 2010 7:16 AM GMT
    paulflexes saidFirst, they didn't list a sample size to prove their statistics are anywhere near valid.

    || The study, one of the largest of its kind, involved almost 1,400 runners, from age 13 to past 60, who were assigned randomly to two groups.


    paulflexes saidSecond, they admitted that those who did not stretch got more injuries, but made an excuse for why.

    || About 16 percent of the group that didn’t stretch were hobbled badly enough to miss training for at least three days (the researchers’ definition of a running injury), while about 16 percent of the group that did stretch were laid up for the same amount of time. The percentages, in other words, were virtually identical.

    What you are referring to is this:

    || One anomalous finding of the USA Track and Field study was that runners who were used to stretching and were assigned to the nonstretching group became injured at a disproportionately high rate. Almost 23 percent of them wound up hurting themselves during the three months. But no experts associated with the study or who have read the results believe that this finding intimates that stretching had been keeping them uninjured in the past. More likely, Dr. McHugh said, they fell victim to a training error, which, he explained, “in reality can mean any abrupt change in training patterns. Your body adapts to its routine, and if that routine is monotonously habitual as with many runners, it doesn’t take much of a change to cause an injury.”

    So if you presently stretch, don't go cold turkey and mess with your routine.
    Wean yourself, gradually, off stretching.


    paulflexes saidThird, three months is not long enough to determine long-term effects of stretching vs not stretching.
    That study needs a few more years of work.

    Here you may have a point.
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    Sep 02, 2010 5:17 PM GMT
    shirty saidFor whatever reason I've always felt this order makes the most sense:

    1) Warm-up: 5-10 mins of cardio, getting the bloodflow to the entire body.
    2) Strength training: whatever workout you're doing that day.
    3) Stretching: helps the body cool down and returns the heartrate to normal, while lengthening the muscles and clearing out toxins in the tissue.

    Anything else doesn't make sense to me! But to each their own.


    This is correct. Well at least the order is. Stretching before is at best useless. Also these survey things are normally useless as the stretching they do is feeble.
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    Sep 02, 2010 8:01 PM GMT
    viveutvivas saidStatic stretching sucks ass. icon_mad.gif

    I hurt some shoulder tendons/ligaments doing static stretching 2 years ago, and the injury still bothers the hell out of me. I have pain there as I am typing this.


    did you warm up before stretching? You never stretch cold muscles.
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    Sep 02, 2010 8:06 PM GMT
    shirty saidFor whatever reason I've always felt this order makes the most sense:

    1) Warm-up: 5-10 mins of cardio, getting the bloodflow to the entire body.
    2) Strength training: whatever workout you're doing that day.
    3) Stretching: helps the body cool down and returns the heartrate to normal, while lengthening the muscles and clearing out toxins in the tissue.

    Anything else doesn't make sense to me! But to each their own.


    I find stretching before strength training helps me keep limber and do more reps. then I stetch again AFTER the strength training too.
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    Sep 02, 2010 11:00 PM GMT
    Before sports or exercise dynamic stretching after warming up to lubricate the joints help increase blood flow and oxygen to the muscles.

    After a workout you do static stretching (or PNF stretching) to help increase or maintain your range of motion and help bring the muscles back to there original length
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    Sep 02, 2010 11:01 PM GMT
    viveutvivas said

    All my worst injuries have been caused by either physical therapists or personal trainers. I would advise people to stay away from these people.

    I once hurt my shoulder using a dumbbell ergo they are dangerous and should be gotten rid of.
  • SCgradStud

    Posts: 88

    Sep 02, 2010 11:02 PM GMT
    I did my master's thesis on this very topic. Static stretching has no benefit to performance or risk of injury whatsoever. Just increasing flexibility. Willing to share with those interested.....
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    Sep 02, 2010 11:47 PM GMT
    viveutvivas said
    lilTanker said
    viveutvivas said

    All my worst injuries have been caused by either physical therapists or personal trainers. I would advise people to stay away from these people.

    I once hurt my shoulder using a dumbbell ergo they are dangerous and should be gotten rid of.


    Not quite the same thing... Dumbbells don't tell you to do exercises or stretches with false reassurances, based on claims of expertise, that they are safe. icon_smile.gif
    The thing that sits in my mind mate is why didn't you do research on finding a really good trainer and physio? I have an amazing trainer who is incredibly knoladgable in the field and a physiotherapist who has repaired me more times then I care to mention. Yes I've had one injury while training with my trainer but it's an inevitable thing, it will happen, immediate actiion has to be taken you need to take care of your body and your trainer doesn't know when you've reached the absolute limit only you do, so its your responsibility to tell them.
  • SoCalMark

    Posts: 11

    Sep 03, 2010 1:38 AM GMT
    I've always been taught you stretch at the end of workout or a run. A warm up I think helps but even in yoga the most intense stretching is done at the end of a class, not at the beginning and the same goes for dance also. My friend that worked on the Arnold Classic and Mr. Olympia years ago also told me stretching should only be done when the muscles are warmed up.
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    Sep 03, 2010 10:44 PM GMT
    viveutvivas said
    lilTanker said
    viveutvivas said
    lilTanker said
    viveutvivas said

    All my worst injuries have been caused by either physical therapists or personal trainers. I would advise people to stay away from these people.

    I once hurt my shoulder using a dumbbell ergo they are dangerous and should be gotten rid of.


    Not quite the same thing... Dumbbells don't tell you to do exercises or stretches with false reassurances, based on claims of expertise, that they are safe. icon_smile.gif


    The thing that sits in my mind mate is why didn't you do research on finding a really good trainer and physio?


    Oh, I did, very much so. For example, this trainer is very well respected here in the Northeast U.S., highly educated in kinesiology, and somewhat famous. The second time I trained with him, he misjudged my readiness to do a certain exercise, and I did it because what do I know? The weight was fine, but because my movement was unstable, I herniated two discs.

    I think I'm only getting half the story here. Did you guys practice the lift with little weight? did he check your form while practicing? he shouldn't have made an assumption especially on a lift you'd never done before and you should have practiced the lift first until you got the movement correct AND he should have made you do it anyway.

    any trainer who does that isn't a good trainer, BUT, again, I feel like I'm missing half the story here and I certainly don't believe that all trainers are bad, heck I'm studying to be one and I intend of being a damned good one.
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    Sep 04, 2010 3:16 AM GMT
    How about preworkout static stretching not to prevent but to alleviate existing injuries? I suffer back pain but find that it corrects imbalances and realigns everything so I can proceed safely with my workout.
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    Sep 04, 2010 12:14 PM GMT
    eagermuscle saidHow about preworkout static stretching not to prevent but to alleviate existing injuries? I suffer back pain but find that it corrects imbalances and realigns everything so I can proceed safely with my workout.

    what sort of back pain? have you seen a professional about this? tons of people experience lower back pain simply because they are very tight through there hamstrings (especially men) and maybe a good stretching routine that you follow consistently to help develop better ROM will alleviate you of this problem.. HOWEVER always see a professional first.

    To viveutvivas, have you ever had any injuries to your back?
    Unfortunately our backs are a very delicate and highly complicated construction, even just bending over could have caused herniated disk/s, did this particular exercise cause you the herniate the disk/s well.. personally I'd say no, HOWEVER what I do think it might have done is brought to light a pre-existing problem that had gone unnoticed by you do back problems run in the family? do you suffer difficulty with flexibility? have you ever been in an accident (from a car/sports/whatever) do you or have you had a job that required heavy lifting? have you spent hours head banging to that doof doof bang bang music? (a lot of those head bangers have developed back problems in later life heh)

    There are a thousand reasons why your disk went sour, while the backward lunge might have brought the problem to light, I'd be more inclined to say it was the final straw that snapped the twig.
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    Sep 05, 2010 4:11 AM GMT
    lilTanker said
    eagermuscle saidHow about preworkout static stretching not to prevent but to alleviate existing injuries? I suffer back pain but find that it corrects imbalances and realigns everything so I can proceed safely with my workout.

    what sort of back pain? have you seen a professional about this? tons of people experience lower back pain simply because they are very tight through there hamstrings (especially men) and maybe a good stretching routine that you follow consistently to help develop better ROM will alleviate you of this problem.. HOWEVER always see a professional first.

    Thanks for asking, lilTanker. It's an approximately 30 year old injury, a degenerative L5-S1 disc. You're on the money about tight hamstrings. I've been through so much rehab that even at age 40 I had the flexibility of a gymnast but as I get older despite my training sensibly and taking extra precautions my back gets aggravated more frequently and recovers more slowly. Still, this past year my "team" - one physiatrist who injects Lidocaine into my trigger points, another who performs dry needling and trigger point injections with acupuncture needles near my groin, a chiropracter who places in Masters NPC contests and specializes in bodybuilders, and a physical therapist - agreed that the only thing more rapid than my declines have been my recoveries. They've all advised daily and preworkout stretching, but since reading this thread I've begun stretching postworkout also, figuring it couldn't hurt - even though it means adding yet another regime to my existing, increasingly exhaustive training.
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    Sep 05, 2010 4:51 AM GMT
    eagermuscle saidThanks for asking, lilTanker. It's an approximately 30 year old injury, a degenerative L5-S1 disc. You're on the money about tight hamstrings. I've been through so much rehab that even at age 40 I had the flexibility of a gymnast but as I get older despite my training sensibly and taking extra precautions my back gets aggravated more frequently and recovers more slowly. Still, this past year my "team" - one physiatrist who injects Lidocaine into my trigger points, another who performs dry needling and trigger point injections with acupuncture needles near my groin, a chiropracter who places in Masters NPC contests and specializes in bodybuilders, and a physical therapist - agreed that the only thing more rapid than my declines have been my recoveries. They've all advised daily and preworkout stretching, but since reading this thread I've begun stretching postworkout also, figuring it couldn't hurt - even though it means adding yet another regime to my existing, increasingly exhaustive training.

    If you've been advised by highly trained professionals then by all means follow there advice, stretching before a workout isn't "bad" its just not recommended to the general population and the general sports player, that's not to say that you can't, your no longer general populous with a back injury that has caused you problems for so long.

    I'm surprised you hadn't been stretching after a workout already? during a workout your muscles start to shorten and over the short term not stretching wouldn't be a great problem BUT over the long term your muscles will remain shorter which will be putting lots of pressure on your body (especially your back and legs) stretching helps pull them back into there proper length and even increase there length which can help alleviate lower back pains.

    In your case you should most definitely talk to the people who look after you first before starting a stretching routine and let them guide you since they will know the history and the key points that cause aggravation to your back
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    Sep 05, 2010 5:06 AM GMT
    SCgradStud saidI did my master's thesis on this very topic. Static stretching has no benefit to performance or risk of injury whatsoever. Just increasing flexibility. Willing to share with those interested.....


    what did your thesis research have to say about active isolated stretching? this has been the primary stretching modality that i have been exposed to and have been using for the past few years. i can't really compare it to anything else because i am not familiar with other forms of stretching (at least, i don't think i am familiar with them).
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    Sep 05, 2010 6:45 AM GMT
    ObsceneWish saidThe Times ran a similar article sometime back and did indeed say that stretching after a workout was more effective than before. That article referred to lifting weights, as I recollect, and said that warming up with lighter weights was far more effective in avoiding injury than stretching.


    I've always known this to be the truth. I never stretch before anything.
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    Sep 05, 2010 7:58 AM GMT
    Lostboy said
    shirty saidFor whatever reason I've always felt this order makes the most sense:

    1) Warm-up: 5-10 mins of cardio, getting the bloodflow to the entire body.
    2) Strength training: whatever workout you're doing that day.
    3) Stretching: helps the body cool down and returns the heartrate to normal, while lengthening the muscles and clearing out toxins in the tissue.

    Anything else doesn't make sense to me! But to each their own.


    This is correct. Well at least the order is. Stretching before is at best useless. Also these survey things are normally useless as the stretching they do is feeble.


    I stretch briefly after each set completed...40 secs max. and then drink water.

    Following warm up the usual rotation exercises to make sure tendons are not hurt.