Do we need to stretch before exercising?

A few years ago, to stretch before exercising in team sports was an activity widely recognized, especially the static stretching during which you undertake a pose and you hold it from a few seconds to long minutes.

However, recent studies have demonstrated that a prolonged static stretching could cause reactions in the nervous system that might weaken temporarily the stretched muscles and the performance of athletes.

Many coaches and sports organizations recommend the dynamic stretching because your limbs and joints always stay in motion.

With the purpose to analyze the effects of dynamic stretching on performance, some scientists have tested different stretching routines on 20 young male athletes in team sports (rugby and football) for 4 days.

In order to have the best conditions for the study, the warm-up consisted of a few minutes jogging, a stretching and then 15 minutes of intense sprinting, jumping and other fast moves. During the 4 days, only the stretching was changed.

The first day, during their warm-up, the athletes completed 9 basic static stretching for different muscles, each of them last 5 seconds. The second day, the same 9 stretches were completed again but for 30 seconds each. The third day, the same stretches were done but with the dynamic version. And the last day, no stretching was done during their warm-up. The athletes had to complete tests every day to measure their flexibility, agility, jumping and sprinting.

Results: the performance of the athletes didn’t change, regardless of the type of stretching (dynamic or static) and even without any warm-up. So, to stretch before exercising?  It’s up to you to decide! The answer will depend on how do you feel about stretching and the type of exercise do you want to do!