Stretching – friend or foe ?

The following is a thought provoking article provided by Moz, from club sponsors Complete Wellness Physiotherapy:

STRETCHING – FRIEND OR FOE
By Moz Quinn
The Truth About Stretching

(Well, the truth is that stretching does not prevent injury)

Many of our clients ask us about stretching, in the belief that stretching will help them to overcome injury or prevent injury.

In our clinic, we don’t heavily encourage our clients to stretch. In fact, we go out of our way to debunk some myths about stretching.

Have you ever wondered though why your “flexibility” doesn’t improve with continued stretching?

Let’s take a close look at why……

For every muscle that you stretch, you are also stretching a nerve. Nerves are highly sensitive and reactive and don’t tolerate sustained or repeated stretching without reacting. So, when they react, they tighten up.

A classic example is of the recreational athlete who has tight hamstrings. We have always been told to “stretch our hamis, you must stretch your hamis.” So the athlete goes to great lengths to stretch his / her hamis. Guess what? They often get tighter!

Here’s why….

….when you stretch your hamis, you are also stretching your sciatic nerve. This is a long nerve that originates at the base of the lumbar spine and runs down the back of the thigh. In response to being repeatedly stretched or put into a prolonged position of stretch, the body’s natural protective response is to tighten. So the muscles around the nerve tighten. They go into a state of protective tightening. So your hamstrings get tighter! Added to which, prolonged and repetitive stretching has been shown to lead to decreased performance (speed and jump height).

Here’s another fact worth carefully thinking about. It is the result of a meta analysis of 20 years of research that investigated the link between stretching and injury prevention…….

There is no proof!

…….Stretching does not prevent injury!

“It is important to note that, at this time, there is no empirical evidence to support the notion that pre- exercise stretching reduces the risk of injury in any population or activity, and that the only evidence we currently have suggests it does not.” (Pope).

Interesting… and yet, everyone is still stretching, stretching, stretching.