Busting the myth: Stretching

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It is a new year and you are on your way to start an intense workout but the question is: “Do I really need to stretch?”

In the past, stretching has been thought of as a crucial precursor to a workout. Although it is not a part of the main course, it has always been viewed as something of importance.

However, it seems the significance of stretching is shifting.

Photo by Willoughby Douglas"Michael Gibson, senior business administration major, stretches in one of the exercise-class rooms on the second floor of the CBU recreation center. Stretching lets Gibson loosen up before his workouts. Whether it be basketball or football, Gibson stretches before exercising."
Photo by Willoughby Douglas
“Michael Gibson, senior business administration major, stretches in one of the exercise-class rooms on the second floor of the CBU recreation center. Stretching lets Gibson loosen up before his workouts. Whether it be basketball or football, Gibson stretches before exercising.”

“Mounting evidence suggests that pre-exercise stretching plays a limited role in injury prevention and may unfavorably impact exercise performance,” said Dr. Jeffrey M. Janot, assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire.

As studies show, static stretching can actually backfire on an individual’s attempt to prevent injury before a workout.

“If you’re actually doing an exercise and warming up, it’s actually not good to do static stretching,” said Raizah Singh, personal trainer at California Baptist University’s recreation center. “It’s important to do static stretching after the workout.”

Cold muscles and stretching are not the best combination but ever since everyone’s first P.E. class in elementary school, it would seem we have been instructed to stretch before any rigorous activity.

Before a workout, your body is not warmed up and stretching muscles could cause more harm than good.

“You don’t want to start your workout stretching because you’re stretching cold muscles and could cause injury,” said Nathanael Chavers, junior kinesiology major who has declared a concentration in exercise science.

Chavers played nine years of basketball and during that time he rarely stretched. He found that he would stretch at times but was too impatient and wanted to get on to the main exercise.

Singh advises that warming up is far more important than static stretching.

“Warming up is very important because you don’t want to go into anything cold,” Singh said.

Despite talk about opposition to stretching, some people still feel it is the best way to go.

“I find stretching very important,” said Michael Gibson, senior business administration major. “When I don’t stretch, I feel tight and not as loose.”

Gibson finds that when he plays intramural sports, such as football and basketball, he cannot go on without stretching. Stretching before a physical activity helps him feel prepared to go out and play his favorite sports.

While there are different views on the importance of stretching, the most important aspect to a workout is that there needs to be some type of pre-workout activity.

The alternative to stretching would be to warm up. Warming up will allow muscles to wake up and get blood pumping to the right places.

Anything that is light in intensity and causes the body to move, falls into the category of warming up.

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