Monday, April 19, 2010

Experts: Don't stretch before exercising

Want a better work-out? Then don't stretch beforehand, some experts say.

Many people take it for granted that they should start their exercise routines with some stretching on the spot, perhaps hoping it will loosen them up for their work-out. Most fitness experts now agree this kind of static stretching before exercise is not just counter-productive, but potentially harmful.

Traditional stretches, like when people bend over to touch their toes or stretch their legs on a fence, often cause the muscles to tighten rather than relax — exactly the opposite of what is needed for physical activity.

Experts say it is like extending a rubber band to its limit. When people stretch to the maximum, they are more likely to pull a muscle.

"We have developed this idea of static stretching at exactly the wrong time," said Kieran O'Sullivan, an exercise expert at the University of Limerick in Ireland, who has studied various types of stretching and their impact on athletes. Read More.

Increased flexibility has always been assumed to reduce the risk of potential injuries. However, there has been no scientific evidence to support this hypothesis. Light activity/movement makes more sense over static stretching.

SOURCE: USA Today 4/19/10