Why Static Stretching Does More Harm Than Good
Growing up, most children were taught to stretch before doing activities. This was meant to “limber up” muscles to prevent injuries such as sprains and pulled or torn muscles. But in recent years, research has started to show that it might actually have the complete opposite effect. Static stretching before a workout actually does not prepare your body to perform exercises with load, and in fact may increase your risk of injury.
According to internationally recognized expert in human movement and performance Michol Dalcourt, static stretching can increase the likelihood of injury as it down-regulates the nervous system and reduces stability at the joint—definitely not something that you want to do before training. While static stretching may decrease post-activity muscular soreness, it can desensitize your joints, which increases the risk of injury the next time you perform resistance-type exercises. Additionally, longer static stretching may lead to overstretching (plastic deformation) of the joint, which can have negative long-term effects.
Most of the latest research available shows that movement-based flexibility exercises are the most effective way of increasing mobility in the body. Dynamic stretching creates more of the elastic response throughout the fascia that static stretching was intended for. This is especially important for athletes, who must train their tissues to be more elastic and compliant so they can capture energy and release it right away, making them more efficient in their respective sport.
So the next time you go to stretch before exercising, think twice about your approach. It’s time we all got out of the static stretching habits we were taught in our early years, and switch to dynamic stretching to be much more effective at reaching our goals.
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