Original post: May 8, 2019
To stretch or not to stretch. That is the question. This issue of when to
stretch and how to stretch has been a conflicting subject over the past few
decades. Many research studies over the years seem to go back and forth of the
question: When and how do you/should you stretch?
Most studies show for athletes, a dynamic stretch or warm up is most
preferable to prevent injury and improve performance. However, it depends on
what you are stretching and what sport you are performing. For baseball
athletes, shoulder ROM and strengthening does show some evidence for reducing
injury in shoulder and elbows (Shitara, H., 2017). In the case of runners, a
stretching program is not as beneficial as a simple walk to warm up before
sprinting Wallmann, 2012). In the case of static vs dynamic (static is a static
stretch held of a certain muscle group for 20-30sec and dynamic stretch is a
specific protocol designed by your PT or personal trainer) dynamic is the way
to go. Those who participate in a dynamic warm up show improved sports
performance and endurance than those who do no stretch or static stretch
Stretching is very important. While dynamic stretches improve performance in
most cases and prevent injury (not always true – listen to your MD and PT
recommendations!), static stretches help to improve ROM to allow full mobility.
Everything has its place. See your PT or personal trainer for more specifics on
protocols, general body warm ups, or sports specific interventions. Here at
Armstrong Physiotherapy, we care for you!
Samson, M., Button, D. C., Chaouachi, A., & Behm, D. G. (2012). Effects
of dynamic and static stretching within general and activity specific warm-up
protocols. Journal of sports science & medicine, 11(2),
Shitara, H., Yamamoto, A., Shimoyama, D., Ichinose, T., Sasaki, T., Hamano,
N., … Takagishi, K. (2017). Shoulder Stretching Intervention Reduces the
Incidence of Shoulder and Elbow Injuries in High School Baseball Players: a
Time-to-Event Analysis. Scientific reports, 7,
Wallmann, H. W., Christensen, S. D., Perry, C., & Hoover, D. L. (2012).
The acute effects of various types of stretching static, dynamic, ballistic,
and no stretch of the iliopsoas on 40-yard sprint times in recreational
runners. International journal of sports physical therapy, 7(5),
I remember always being told to stretch before any physical
activity to reduce the risk of injury since I was a kid. But, which to choose?
There are static stretches (classic hold for 30sec) or dynamic stretches (warm
up, PNF, etc.) which both have shown to improve range of motion and reduce
injury (Landon Limpke, 2018). Twenty years ago,
expert opinion was in the air about which was better, and the same is true
Part of the reason there is conflicting results as to which
is better is there are different activities that require flexibility vs
controlled mobility. One example of this is going for a run versus playing a
competitive sport. Some research suggests hamstring stretching in either static
or dynamic both reduce injury previously hamstring injured individuals regardless
of the type of stretch (Kieran O’Sullivan, 2009).
So, who should you go to for help? Many stretching programs
exist, and many specialties are capable of prescribing stretching programs. One
study looked to see the impact of a physiotherapist prescribing a tailored
stretching program for athletes and the rate of injury compared to those athletes
without intervention. The injury rate over a 40-week period of soccer players
was found to be significantly lower in the group with physiotherapy
intervention. Also, the risk for developing injury-related disorders were much
lower in the groups with physiotherapy intervention (Nobuhide Azuma, 2020).
As I said, expert opinion is still in the air! Find your
local physiotherapists for a more tailored approach to designing YOUR specific
movement pattern program to maximize function and reduce risk of injury!
BIBLIOGRAPHY Kieran O’Sullivan, E. M. (2009). The effect of
warm-up, static stretching and dynamic stretching on hamstring flexibility in
previously injured subjects. BMC Muskuloskeletal Disorders, 10:37.
Landon Limpke, R. W. (2018). The Effectiveness of
PNF Versus Static Stretching. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation, 27,
Nobuhide Azuma, F. S. (2020). Injury prevention
effects of stretching exercise intervention by physical therapists in male
highschool soccery players. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science
in Sports, 30, 2178-2192.