Why Stretching is Making a Come Back?

  • 28th March 2024
  • Stretching, Tips

Should we Stretch?

Stretching has become less popular in recent years. Those of you who are as old as me, may recall incorporating a significant amount of stretching into their warm-up routines. Nowadays, stretching is not commonly included in warm-ups and is often replaced by active movements. Additionally, foam rolling has become a common substitute for stretching in cool down routines.

Why is stretching a lost art?

The effectiveness of stretching has been a topic of debate, with research suggesting a limited short-term impact due to the absence of evidence showing lengthening inside the muscle as previously believed. As a result, many therapists have reduced the amount of stretches they now prescribe as evidence for its’ success was lacking. However, Yoga has been around of centuries and continues to show positive results so what is going on? Recent studies in the last few years have discovered new evidence indicating that stretching does indeed increase muscle length, maybe just not in the way we thought

Julians (2024) recently wrote an article for Physio Matters outlining new research which found the following benefits to stretching: –

· Stretching can increase the size of the muscle. For people that are too frail to do resistance training this may be a nicer, gentler and more enjoyable way to exercise.

· Stretching reduces arterial stiffness reducing heart rate and blood pressure. Stretching therefore has relaxation benefits. This ties nicely into what we know about Yoga.

· Stretching makes muscles more resistant to overload, giving injury prevention benefits and therefore can help us to train harder.

· Muscles are primed for performance without losing tension through range, which means it can be performed safely in a warm-up. This is contrary to current practice in the last decade when stretching in a warm-up has been discouraged.

· Muscles are capable of function at greater range of lengths. This is important for activities that require us to work into big ranges of movement like dancing. Interestingly stretching remains important in the world of dance.

· Has an anti-inflammatory effect, reducing the risk of some illnesses.

· Has positive effects on energy metabolism which can help those with type II diabetes.

Considering the numerous benefits associated with stretching, is it time for us to reconsider its importance in our fitness routines?

The evidence shows that stretching should be a vital component of any fitness regimen, independent of age, health and personal circumstances.The effects are so wide ranging we should perhaps recommend it for all.