The Myth of Stretching 

Stre-e-e-ee-e-tching before exercise helps improve performance and decreases injuries, right?

Wrong! On both counts.

Static stretching (or stretching and holding the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds) actually decreases performance and can lead to injury, according to exercise physiologists.

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Static (Traditional) Stretching

The problem with static stretches (very helpful after exercise) is that they desensitize muscle components for 15 to 20 minutes, decreasing power and vertical leap. Stretching can also mask pain that should serve as a warning that you shouldn’t be running or jumping on a leg, or lifting weights or swinging a bat, club or racket with your upper body.

Dynamic Stretching

It’s important to limber up before a workout, game or match using dynamic warmup movements like jogging in place, skipping with high knees, jumping jacks, arm swings and butt kicks. This gently stretches muscles as you’ll soon be using them in your activity.

Ballistic Stretching

Stretching by bouncing is not a good idea, because it can lead to injuries. An example of a bounce stretch would be lowering to touch your toes, and bouncing your hands off your toes as you move your upper body up and down.

Dynamic Before, Static After

Stretch with dynamic stretches before activity, and use static stretching after exercise to help get excess blood, lactic acid and other anabolic waste out of your muscles. Post-exercise static stretching will help you reduce pain and soreness later and improve your flexibility for better workouts or competition in the future.

Additional Resources

Society for Tennis Medicine and Science: Is Static Stretching for Tennis Beneficial?

Wichita State University: Static vs. Dynamic Stretching on Vertical Jump and Standing Long Jump

Physiology of Stretching; Types of Stretching; Bradford D. Appleton

Physiology of Stretching; Flexibility; Bradford D. Appleton

Society for Tennis Medicine and Science: A Meta-Analysis of the Research Literature From 2000 to 2006 in Light of Current Athletic Practice

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