Jan 29, 2015
Quick Link: The Stretching Debate

Does research show stretching to be helpful or detrimental to flexibility and performance?
Presently, uncertainty exists about some proposed benefits of flexibility, including its effect on injury avoidance, muscle soreness prevention, muscular strength training and performance improvement. A recent review article by Dr. Len Kravitz in IDEA Fitness Journal attempts to clarify these issues with existing evidence-based science and the most current research update on this component of fitness.

Much of the confusion and controversy surrounding stretching that the article examines in detail includes the following:

• How flexibility can be determined by factors such as age, joint structure, gender, histology, fitness level and physical activity.

• Different stretching exercises to increase flexibility including:
Passive stretching
Dynamic stretching
Static or “hold” stretching
Contract-Relax and PNF Stretching
Resistance Stretching

• Controversial issues such as:
Pre-exercise stretching and injury risk
Preventing or reducing muscle soreness
Impact on muscular strength
Impact on performance

“This article symbolizes an important triumph for applied research,” says IDEA executive director Kathie Davis. “For many decades, coaches, athletes, and others have touted numerous benefits of flexibility. As seen in similar disciplines, the practical beliefs of key pioneers often guide the field. However, as observed with flexibility, many of these beliefs have not proved accurate when challenged through the benchmark of scientific investigation. This does not minimize the importance of flexibility as a component of fitness, yet it better directs professionals and fitness enthusiasts who wish to incorporate it into their training programs.”

You can access the full article “Stretching–A Research Retrospective,” by Len Kravitz, PhD, in the IDEA Online Library.

For more information on the IDEA Health & Fitness Association, visit: http://www.ideafit.com.

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