Should You Stretch?

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According to a new study, static stretching before running does nothing to prevent injury, the New York Times reports.

USA Track and Field enlisted 1,400 runners in the study, telling one group to do static stretches before running and the other group to run sans stretching. After three months of these regimens, both groups had nearly identical injury rates.

The debate about the effectiveness of stretching–both before and after exercise–in preventing injury and muscle soreness has gone on for years.

A 2002 study found that “stretching before and after exercising does not confer protection from muscle soreness and stretching before exercise does not seem to confer a practically useful reduction in the risk of injury.” A 2005 review of five studies conducted on stretching found the same thing. Both concluded that further research is needed to determine how stretching effects athletic performance.

So should you stretch? A physiologist interviewed by the NYT  “suggests that an ideal preworkout routine 'consists of a very easy warm-up, followed by a gradual increase in intensity and then dynamic stretching.'”

Need help developing a dynamic stretching routine? Check out Outside's how-to video and article.

–Erin Beresini

Photo courtesy Tobyotter on Flickr.

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