10 Science-Proven Facts About Stretching You Need to Know
If you’ve ever participated in sports or physical activities, you’ve probably been told to stretch before and after exercising to prevent injuries. While stretching can offer many benefits, there are certain types of stretches that can do more harm than good. In this article, we’ll explore ten science-proven facts about stretching to help you understand how and when to stretch without hurting yourself.
1. Stretching before a workout can inhibit your performance:
Research has found that static stretching before exercising can reduce your strength by over 8% and lower-body stability by 22%. Instead, try dynamic stretches that involve movement without decreasing your performance.
2. Dynamic stretching is better when warming up:
Dynamic stretches during a warm-up are recommended to improve performance without decreasing strength. Examples include burpees, jumping jacks, leg kicks, squats, lunges and pushups.
3. PNF stretching increases range of motion:
Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching involves multi-joint, rotational movements that stretch and contract targeted muscle groups. Research shows that PNF stretching may be more effective than static stretching or passive stretching for increasing muscular range of motion.
4. Stretching does not prevent muscle soreness:
Stretching before or after exercising doesn’t appear to protect you from muscle soreness, try using ice packs or ibuprofen to ease the soreness.
5. Stretching improves flexibility:
Stretching regularly helps to increase flexibility and nimbleness. Flexibility training is an essential part of any well-rounded fitness program.
6. Stretching can decrease the risk of injury:
Dynamic stretching is one of the best ways to increase flexibility and reduce the risk of injury before exercising.
7. Stretching increases blood flow to muscles:
Stretching increases blood flow to the parts of your body that need it most, preventing injury and ensuring that your muscles receive oxygen they need.
8. Stretching throughout the day is helpful:
Sitting for long periods can cause postural issues and decrease life expectancy by up to two years. Stretching for short periods throughout the day can help to loosen tight muscles and prevent injuries from developing.
9. Never bounce when stretching:
Bouncing while performing static stretches can cause injury. Warm up dynamically instead by doing body weight exercises like lunges and squats.
10. Stretch on both sides for balance:
Balance is a crucial component of stretching. Focus on both sides when you stretch, and hone in on the muscle groups you’re going to use most during your physical activity.
In conclusion, stretching is an excellent way to increase flexibility and reduce the risk of injury before and after exercising. However, not all stretches are created equally, and it’s vital to understand which types of stretches are appropriate for different times and exercises. Following the science-proven facts about stretching mentioned in this article, including dynamic stretching during warm-up and PNF stretching for increased range of motion, will surely help you to prevent injuries and improve your performance.