When done properly, stretching can reduce pain and create better blood circulation in the body. Because of its benefits, some people even claim that it’s healthier than exercising is. While stretching can be very helpful, it’s important not to stretch the truth about its benefits. So, let’s break down some common myths about stretching.
What is Stretching?
The two main types of stretching are dynamic and static.
- Dynamic stretches focus on repeated movements or holding a challenging position. They help to prevent stiffness, regulate blood flow, loosen muscles, and improve range of motion. Examples of dynamic stretches include leg-lifts, butt-kicks, and walking lunges.
- Static stretches occur during the “cool-down” phase of an exercise. These stretches focus on the chest, back, shoulder, and triceps.
10 Common Myths About Stretching
1. Stretching prevents injury
FALSE: This is one of the most common myths about stretching. A study featured at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) showed that stretching before running did not have a significant impact on the number of injuries sustained by the participants. This means that stretching neither prevented nor caused the injuries from happening. The most common injuries in the study were foot, ankle, or groin pulls, and knee injuries. While stretching can be helpful, you can’t rely on it to prevent injuries.
2. Cardio is a good warmup
FALSE: Spending some time on the treadmill before weightlifting is not an effective warmup strategy. Dynamic stretching such as running butt kicks, walking lunged, or fast skips are much better warmups when it comes to strenuous activities like weight lifting.
3. Static stretching should come before exercise
FALSE: Static stretching is best done after exercise because it helps to relax the muscles. In fact, doing static stretches before a workout may actually hinder performance. So stick to dynamic stretching before a workout!
4. Everyone can do the same stretches
FALSE: People who lead sedentary lifestyles need more warmup time than people who are more active. Muscles can get extremely stiff when you’re not using them frequently. This is a big problem for people who sit at a desk for eight hours a day. Try to get as much warmup time in as possible if you are not very active.
5. People who are naturally flexible don’t need to stretch
FALSE: Everyone should stretch in order to increase blood circulation. Even people who are naturally more flexible risk the chance of decreasing their abilities if they do not stretch often enough.
6. It won’t help performance
FALSE: Dynamic stretching can boost muscle endurance and increase your range of motion. These benefits will definitely help to enhance performance.
7. It eliminates soreness
FALSE: Soreness is a result of “micro tears” that occur during a workout. Stretching cannot reduce these tears from happening. In fact, studies show that stretching before, after, or during exercise does not prevent soreness even for in healthy adults.
8. “Cooling-down” is not necessary
FALSE: Giving your muscle the opportunity to relax after a workout is very important. Stretching after a workout can also help to reduce the development of muscle knots. Foam rolling is a great way to cool down after exercise. This technique has the same benefits of a deep-tissue massage, which include increased flexibility and decreased muscle tension.
9. You only need to stretch on days you workout or exercise
FALSE: Stretching is more beneficial if it’s practiced every day. Even if you’re not heading to the gym, stretching will help to reduce the risk of muscle strains when you are exercising.
10. You only need to stretch for a minute or so
FALSE: If it’s rushed, no exercise is effective. Do you expect to lose weight after only running for five minutes? You cannot get the results you want without dedicating some time. Dynamic stretching before a workout and then static exercises to finish up are recommended for the best results. You should hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds. It is also helpful to do several kinds of stretches to strengthen your body.
Are there any myths about stretching that we missed? Let us know in the comments section below!
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