Can Stretching Improve my Performance and Recovery?
Today we dive into a sytematic review discussing the acute effects of muscle stretching on performance, injury, and range of motion. As a reminder, a systematic review is the highest form of scientific journal evidence that can be interpreted with confidence.
We like to preach the benefits of of resistance training supplemented with yoga for flexibility/ mobility.
What are the benefits of stretching?
We know it makes us feel good but what evidence is out there? This extensive article explains the benefits, or lack there of, between static stretching and dynamic stretching.
Static = Stable, not moving (Holding a stretch)
Dynamic = Stretch with movement
The beauty of yoga is that it provides a perfect blend of isometric strengthening, static, and dynamic stretching all in one movement.
This particular scientific journal studied the acute effects (immediate) of stretching. They were not able to study the long term effects which may provide much better or worse results.
The journal utilized 125 different studies to review that met their inclusion criteria for the acute benefits of static and dynamic stretching.
What were the results?
- Static stretching actually induced small performance decreases immediately after stretching possibly due to reduced muscle activation. On the other hand, static stretching was found to be moderately beneficial for performance at long muscle lengths. So, we can think of greater performance with the muscle being stretched at longer lengths when I would normally be less effective.
- Six studies specified the effects of muscle stretching for acute injury indicating a 54% risk reduction in acute muscle injuries.
- 10 studies covered duration on injury reduction. A majority of those found that a stretching routine lasting greater than five minutes reduced participant injury risk.
- Most studies did not include post stretching dynamic activities. This means that these studies did not include movements that required increased movement. The studies that did require active movements did not note any major difference in performance.
- Dynamic stretching showed small-moderate performance improvements immediately after stretching.
- Both forms of stretching induced immediate improvements with range of motion lasting < 30 minutes.
- The article writers suggest that due to small-moderate changes, pre and post stretching is recommended for improved recovery, performance, and range of motion.
There you have it! With 125 studies to review, there are small-moderate benefits for injury prevention, range of motion, and performance. One the other hand, some movements we once thought to be beneficial were proven otherwise.
Regardless, we need to take advantage of the benefits and what is the perfect way to start? SNOGA! Join our Snoga program today and start your yoga journey so you can reap the benefits!
Reference: Behm DG, Blazevich AJ, Kay AD, McHugh M. Acute effects of muscle stretching on physical performance, range of motion, and injury incidence in healthy active individuals: a systematic review. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2016;41(1):1-11. doi:10.1139/apnm-2015-0235