Static Stretching: “Stretching” the Truth

PainScience: Full Article

Stretching research clearly shows that stretching is not an effective warmup

“Nothing about static stretching is more clear. Your basic quick (static) stretch warmup is one of the most studied topics in all of musculoskeletal health care and exercise science. For instance, a huge 2011 review of all the research found “overwhelming evidence that stretch durations of 30-45 seconds … imparted no significant effect” and even some evidence of harm.13

Um, harm? Yep: a 2014 test found that a nice pre-run stretch causes “a reduced capacity of the skeletal muscle to produce explosive force.” Yikes! As Alex Hutchinson put it for Runner’s World, “I can’t see anything good about something that makes me go slower but feel like I’m trying harder.”

“Acrobats, gymnasts, yogis, contortionists, and martial artists have clearly been pushing the limits for centuries, sometimes achieving uncanny mobility. But these are highly motivated athletes with specific and exotic performance goals and stretching regimens that woulddefinitely intimidate the rest of us, and with good reason: they often injure themselves along the way. Indeed, it may even be necessary to injure joints — to traumatize their capsules and ligaments — in order to get them to move that far.

Fitness and health are not equivalent. You can be fit for a particular athletic pursuit, but that doesn’t mean you are a healthier person: high performance in a narrow category often comes at great costs (such as joint stability). Flexibility is “good for” a few things … and really not much else. It’s useful for gymnasts, for instance …”