How important is stretching?

  • Camz03

    Posts: 91

    Dec 18, 2012 10:49 PM GMT
    I'm asking because I don't know where I stand on this... Some say it is crucial and others say it doesn't matter... I suppose I haven't really done it in the past because it takes up even more time. I know it's not beneficial to stretch statically between sets at least...

    Have you guys ever heard of the muscle shortening and losing its ability to contract if you don't stretch?

    Do you stretch between sets?
    Do you stretch after a workout?

    If anyone had a useful link that would be great.
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    Dec 19, 2012 12:34 AM GMT
    I was taught by a physical therapist that stretching is important to lower the risk of injuries, especially to joints. One example he taught me is stretching the hamstrings. He said stretching this muscle can reduce the risk of injuries to the knees. I somewhat believe him because I deal with lots of patients with knee injuries and they end up requiring surgery. Otherwise for some people, injuries can occur no matter what they do (just my opinion).

    I stretch about 30 min after a workout or at night right before bed. I focus on my lower body and lower back. To date, I've had no complications. Wish I can provide you with a link but I don't know any. Good luck finding one!
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    Dec 19, 2012 12:56 AM GMT
    Camz03 saidI'm asking because I don't know where I stand on this... Some say it is crucial and others say it doesn't matter... I suppose I haven't really done it in the past because it takes up even more time. I know it's not beneficial to stretch statically between sets at least...

    Have you guys ever heard of the muscle shortening and losing its ability to contract if you don't stretch?

    Do you stretch between sets?
    Do you stretch after a workout?

    If anyone had a useful link that would be great.


    From what I'm told, stretching prevents injuries un-forseen. If you accidently slip or trip/fall your body might stretch in ways you can't predict. You might end up landing in the splits and pulling/tearing your hamstring or groin. But with sufficient stretching your body will be more comfortable moving in those peculiar ways in the event of a fall. Therefore, if you do happen to fall, you'll be less likely to be severely injured.

    I would just like to clarify that the term " stretching" has evolved over the years tremendously. Stretching in fitness isn't only static stretching like what ballet dancers do. There is such thing as Dynamic stretching which every track athlete does to slowly stretch their limbs in every warm-up. If you looked at videos of dynamic stretching, it'll honestly look like another exercise that track athletes do.
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    Dec 19, 2012 5:06 AM GMT
    Dynamic stretching to warm up before 10 minutes of HIIT on elliptical.

    Static stretching after 10 minutes of HIIT on elliptical once you're really warmed up prior to lifting.
  • Camz03

    Posts: 91

    Dec 19, 2012 3:08 PM GMT
    KKim11 saidI would just like to clarify that the term " stretching" has evolved over the years tremendously. Stretching in fitness isn't only static stretching like what ballet dancers do. There is such thing as Dynamic stretching which every track athlete does to slowly stretch their limbs in every warm-up. If you looked at videos of dynamic stretching, it'll honestly look like another exercise that track athletes do.


    I use the smaller dynamic stretching techniques between sets and I find it does help to improve the number of reps I can get through each workout.

    And I certainly can appreciate that stretching would prevent injury both by assisting joints and by preparing the body to be in very stretched positions.... but I'm speaking more on the level of how it affects muscular contraction, muscle shortening, and repair and other effects post-workout.
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    Dec 19, 2012 8:31 PM GMT
    I can't tell you the science behind it, but I stretch whenever I feel stiff...whether it's between sets, after a workout, or on rest days (never before a workout - that's asking for an injury). I stretch the most on rest days because it gets my blood flowing in the morning.

    As for the importance of stretching, I have no idea. It just seems like the thing to do sometimes.
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    Dec 19, 2012 8:37 PM GMT
    Whenever I've googled for actual science on the topic, the answer invariably seems to be that not only is stretching not necessary, but in many instances is actually harmful.
  • working_title

    Posts: 22

    Dec 19, 2012 8:42 PM GMT
    I think it's an individual thing...
    I am naturally very flexible having trained as a dancer when I was a teenager.
    It's been 15 years since I last actively stretched my muscles, but I can still do some impressive party tricks.
    My trainer has told me that due to my flexibility my joints are hyper-mobile, so I have to really be careful with my form. It's easy for me to ben too much.
    Stretching would do me very little good, and in fact might just exacerbate my problems.

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    Dec 19, 2012 8:52 PM GMT
    uoft23 saidWhenever I've googled for actual science on the topic, the answer invariably seems to be that not only is stretching not necessary, but in many instances is actually harmful.


    I've heard this a few times as well, but the majority has promoted stretching as being vital to prevent injuries. I think when stretching can be detrimental is when it is done done incorrectly, or when the limb being stretched is to the point where it actually hurts. On another point , isn't yoga in some ways a form of stretching exercises?
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    Dec 19, 2012 8:56 PM GMT
    Important for what ?
    For actual sport, flexibility improve performances, because you need less fight with your antagonist muscles while moving.
    Weight lifting tend to reduce the range of motion your muscle can sustain, it can be a problem with too tense lower back leading to postural change leading to lower back injuries.
    And also with shoulder reduced mobility leading to excessive stress for some exercises, ending up with rotator cuff issues etc...
  • MidwesternKid

    Posts: 1167

    Dec 19, 2012 8:59 PM GMT
    Stretch. Its good for you. I can finally grab my ankles without bending my knees. Guys, don't all line up at once now . . . >> ... <
  • LJay

    Posts: 11612

    Dec 19, 2012 9:02 PM GMT
    I guess it depends on what you are stretching and how far you are stretching it. You yoga types ought to chime in here.

    Considering the clientele of this board, a discussion of the body parts which might stretch during recreational activity may well be germane.
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    Dec 19, 2012 9:34 PM GMT
    Camz03 saidI'm asking because I don't know where I stand on this... Some say it is crucial and others say it doesn't matter... I suppose I haven't really done it in the past because it takes up even more time. I know it's not beneficial to stretch statically between sets at least...

    Have you guys ever heard of the muscle shortening and losing its ability to contract if you don't stretch?

    Do you stretch between sets?
    Do you stretch after a workout?

    If anyone had a useful link that would be great.



    I could answer this in so many ways. First, you're stretching not only for your body today but your body tomorrow. Every look at anyone at the age of 60 with disc herniations, poor joint circulation, arthritis, dowager's hump, etc. and seen the amount of pain they're in? Intelligent stretching now will set your body up for the long run. That's just one.

    I've had a lot of students who are intense weight lifters who stretched so little when they were gaining mass, they can't even straighten their arms. Furthermore, their chest, shoulder girdle, and intercostals are so tight they have difficulty breathing.

    Shall I go on? Those are just two of many.

    Also, as some of said, stretching can lead to injury which is true. But just as with body building, if you do it intelligently and are guided by some one who KNOWS THE BODY WELL (not some punk who's practiced yoga one year and took a two week teacher training in Costa Rica but a professional), you can either greatly enhance your state or destroy it.
  • bobbyddadd

    Posts: 85

    Dec 19, 2012 9:38 PM GMT
    I wanna give some opinions here. I am a physical therapist. What I said may not 100% right, but those are what I have learned.

    Before working out--- dynamic stretching can act like warming up your body and muscle group, also include ligaments.
    ***Between working out---- once you are changing target muscle group, you should stretch your target muscle first.
    After working out--- static stretching can act like cooling down your body and muscle group. It can really lower the chance to have Delayed onset muscle soreness.

    Muscle contraction including concentric(muscle shortening) and eccentric(muscle lengthening) contraction. Contract too fast will cause soft tissue injury(muscle spasm, muscle strain, ligament sprain).
    Most of the exercise/set we are talking about are using fast-contracting muscle which also fatigue easily. That's why stretching is very important before/between/after working out. Because when muscle is fatigue also means high chance to get hurt.

    Hope those will help
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    Dec 21, 2012 8:17 PM GMT
    I'm not sure what "static stretches" are and I looked it up. I would like to know, and if and why they are bad between sets.

    I was told by trainers and many that stretching is good anytime during your workout. True or not, I do it if I feel like it, particularly if I feel my muscle is too tight. I do a stretch for 5 to 10 seconds if a muscle feels too bunched up and tight. Some guys are looking for that tightness, and I am, too. That pumped up feeling that says you did something to work your muscles. After I stretch during my workout, the muscles still feel pumped but not as constricted.

    There is a saying that "A long muscle is a strong muscle." Particularly after your workout, your muscles are tight and that congestion of muscle fiber needs to be stretched out in order to prevent injuries, and for more room to grow. It certainly is important to prevent injuries.

    I also stretch carefully before my workouts but I do not overdo. I know the controversy about it, and watch out. I think the problem stretching before working out is probably from people doing to much too hard stretching without a warm up blood flow to cold muscles. A lot of what I do is a routine stretching from what I learned from physical therapists. I had typical injuries, and the stretching prevents or heals such injuries, for back, shoulder, and arm. Many people do the same exercises for warm up. I finish that and do a 5 minute moderate cardio warm up to get my blood flowing for my workout. This is when I do a couple of streches for the specific muscles I am going to work out. I immediately start my workout.

    If you are not used to stretching, at least stretch the muscles you worked after your workout. Don't bounce. Go slowly and gently. You can learn how to work up to stronger stretching, but nothing hard you cannot take. Learn to relax your muscle during stretching.

    I find my muscles stretch farther usually each rep. I do two or three reps of 10 to 25 seconds for each muscle I worked out. I also do the routine stretches I did before my work out.

    As you get used to stretching, you may find it relaxing.