Stretching Myths -- Busted!
By Sara Butler
There are myths that surround just about everything. From big things such as Stonehenge to little things that seem as inconsequential as stretching. Yet, the myths are out there and they persist. Stretching is essential to a healthy body, so it’s time to set the record straight by putting these stretching myths to bed once and for all.
Myth No. 1: Always Stretch Before Exercise
Yes, this one is a myth! What is on the table here is static stretching, where you stretch out muscles while your body is at rest. You always want to do a little moving around before you go into a static stretch session so that the muscles can get warmed up and are much easier to get a good stretch on. If you try to stretch your muscles while they’re cold, then you can go too far and pull a muscle – and that could sideline your favorite exercise for a while.
The only exception to this rule is to skip static stretching and go right for dynamic stretching, where you use movement and momentum to stretch your muscles.
Myth No. 2: Stretching Will Keep Injuries at Bay
This is one of those truth/myth hybrids. When you stretch before exercise it does offer you some degree of protection from injury by increasing the flow of blood into the muscle and increasing the range of motion in the joints. But research has not shown stretching to eliminate the possibility of getting injured. The best you can hope for is that you’re using proper form in conjunction with stretching and will avoid injury that way.
Myth No. 3: Stretching Increases Performance
Another one of those half myths that need busting! For most people who exercise or frequent the gym, dynamic stretching can help to loosen up the body. This may make it easier for you to do certain movements, exercises, or poses better by increasing muscle efficiency. But some athletes at higher levels won’t benefit as much from stretching because they risk overworking the muscle and increasing the chance of injury. Maybe someone should go talk to Usain Bolt and see what he has to say about the whole thing!
On the whole, stretching is good for you. But, just as with many other things, it’s only one small part of being active and has to be done with care. Don’t put all your exercise eggs in one basket and expect them all to hatch!
To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.