Is the pre-workout stretch becoming a thing of the past? Two new studies give us good reason to skip it.
A new study published this month in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
finds that if you stretch before you lift weights, you may feel weaker and less stable during your workout, reports The New York Times
. In that study, Austin State University researchers tested stretching's impact on a series of strength workouts performed by 17 healthy young men.
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In a second study from Croatia, University of Zagreb researchers analyzed 104 studies on stretching and its effect on strength, power and "explosive muscular performance." That study, published last month in The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports
, concluded that stretching, or at least static stretching, as a warm-up routine "should generally be avoided." Their findings essentially boil down to the conclusion that "stretched muscles are, in general, substantially less strong," writes The New York Times.
Prior research by Maryland-based orthopedic surgeon Dan Pereles, MD, from 2011, also shows that runners who stretched before their workouts saw no more protection from injuries than runners who didn't stretch.
Still, rather than abandon stretching altogether, recent trends suggest that a technique called "active isolated stretching
" might protect athletes from injuries better than traditional bend-and-hold techniques. Developed by trainer Aaron Mattes and used by massage therapists, physical therapists, and coaches, the technique emphasizes gentle, fluid repetitions of two- to three-second holds with more repetitions.