There’s a ot of confusion when it comes to the value – or lack thereof – of muscle stretching to accelerate recovery after exercise.
First of all, it’s important to understand the difference between stretching for recovery and stretching for remodeling.
During exercise, muscles are called upon to work.
During this time, fuel is used up, waste products are created and muscle fiber structure is disrupted.
The process of resetting the muscles to prepare for the next event is called recovery.
And the muscle returns to full function without soreness.
While multiple studies have shown that stretching does not aid significantly in waste removal or serve in any capacity to accelerate muscle recovery in contrast, only massage has been considered consistently effective.
Similarly, most people aren’t training for professional races but for a better health, weight loss and to improve their moods.
For that, we need to focus on our body’s remodeling response to exercise, which is not the same as recovery from exercise.
When one exercises consistently, our bodies adapt to that stressor by changing our muscle structure, metabolism and physiology.
It is that change, that remodeling, that leads to all the positive benefits of exercise.
What’s more, a recent study has clearly shown that stretching over time improves blood flow to the muscles during subsequent exercise.
It is true that studies have shown:
- Static stretching routines (reach, hold for 30 seconds, release, next stretch) prior to a workout
- Or competition lead to decreases in strength during that event
And that stretching before activity does not prevent injuries, as was long thought.
To stretch or Not to stretch?
Seems like, if you are an elite athlete trying to decrease injury, increase strength or accelerate muscle recovery right before your next event – then no.
But if you are most people, exercising to lose weight, be well and improve mood – then yes.
It will help with muscle remodeling, connective tissue strengthening, range-of-motion improvement, joint alignment;
And potentially blood flow during subsequent exercise – all beneficial effects in the long run, according to Daily Mail.