Stretching Before Workout May Cause Harm, Experts Find

New studies explain stretching prior to exercise may not be beneficial

A debate in whether or not stretching should be done prior to exercise has surfaced in the world of fitness.

Many individuals have learned to make stretching part of their pre-workout routine. It was originally thought that this would properly prepare the muscles for upcoming activity, but new findings may suggest otherwise.

Research shows that a warm-up is most effective when it includes movements similar to those that will be done during the main segment of exercise. For runners, a brisk walk or jog is an effective way to warm up the muscles to be used and prepare the mind and body for the upcoming movement.

There are various forms of stretching and experts suggest the use of dynamic stretching during warm-ups. This method involves stretching while moving and holding the stretch for 5- 10 seconds. This lets the muscles become elastic without over elongating.

Many studies have shown that the use of static stretching during warm-up can lead to injury in two ways. For one, a cold muscle is not very elastic and pressing into a stretch too quickly may cause problems. Secondly, static stretching a warm muscle can greatly increase the length of the muscle and therefore reduce the amount of elasticity required during the workout.

Experts suggest using static stretching during cool-down following exercise when the muscles are warm and when the body is able to adapt to the increased muscle length.