There’s no denying the fact that stretching is a valuable effort to reduce pain and create better blood circulation. Some would argue that stretching is even more beneficial than exercising itself. However, a lot of hype surrounding stretching combined with some wrong techniques we may have learned in elementary school has caused a lot of myths.
Let’s break down the myths about stretching.
There’s two main types of stretching; dynamic and static.
- Dynamic stretches work for for joints and focus on repeated movements or holding a challenging position. Dynamic stretches prevent stiffness, regulates blood-flow, loosens up muscles, and improves ranges of motion. Examples of dynamic stretching include leg-lifts, butt-kicks and walking lunges.
- Static stretches are more appropriate for the “cool-down” part of exercise, as opposed to prior. These include chest, back, shoulder, and triceps stretching.
1. Stretching prevents injury.
FALSE: A study that was showcased in 2011 at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) showed that runners who stretched before running (regardless of physical conditioning factors) neither prevented nor caused injuries from exercise by stretching.
The most common injuries in the study were foot or ankle, groin pulls and knee injuries. However, stretching did not show a significant difference in number of injures.
2. Cardio is a good warmup.
FALSE: Spending some time on the treadmill before doing something like weightlifting is not an ideal practice. Cardio exercise really is not beneficial pre-lifting. Dynamic stretching should definitely be done instead before pumping iron. Running butt kicks, walking lunges or fast skips are some examples of a good warmup before lifting.
3. Static stretching should come before exercise.
FALSE: Static stretching is best done after exercise. Doing it after helps relax the muscles after working out. In fact, despite what we may have been taught throughout grade-school PE class, static stretching before a workout actually may hinder performance.
4. Everyone can do the same stretch-routines.
FALSE: People who had sedentary lifestyles, like those who sit at a desk for eight hours a day, need more warmup time than people who are generally more active. Muscles can get extremely stiff when you’re working in a cubicle.
5. People who are naturally flexible don’t need to stretch.
FALSE: Everyone should stretch to increase blood circulation. Also, your flexibility may decrease after time if you’re not periodically stretching to keep it strong.
6. It won’t help performance.
FALSE: Dynamic stretching actually will boost muscle endurance which leads to increasing your range of motion.
7. It eliminates soreness.
FALSE: Feeling sore comes from “micro tears” that happen during a workout. Stretching is not effective in reducing those from happening. Studies show that stretching before, after or during exercise had no preventive benefits for soreness in healthy adults.
8. “Cooling-down” is not necessary.
FALSE: After a workout, making sure your muscles are able to shift gears and relax is very important. Post-workout stretching reduces those pesky knots. Try foam rolling, which is said to have the same benefits as a deep-tissue massages such as increased flexibility and decreased muscle tension.
9. You only need to stretch on days you workout or exercise.
FALSE: In order to reap the most benefits from stretching, you should try to practice it daily…even if you’re not hitting the gym every day. Stretching daily is the absolute best way to reduce the risk of and prevent muscle strains.
10. You only need to stretch for a minute or so.
FALSE: I don’t know how on earth one could manage to get a proper routine done in any less time than 10 minutes. You need dynamic stretching including foam rolling exercises prior to workout and then static exercises to finish up. There’s just no way to properly do it without dedicating some time. Typically, you are supposed to hold each stretch for 30 seconds.