A lot of research has been done into stretching and its benefits. Much of this research is inconclusive as to whether stretching after exercise prevents DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Static stretching before exercise has in fact been proved to impede performance.
When sorting out all the research on stretching and flexibility it’s important to remember that the goal of stretching is to develop and maintain an appropriate range of motion around specific joints. It’s also important to realize that stretching (or releasing) tight muscles should go hand in hand with strengthening the weak muscles. The effect of stretching on range of movement has been more conclusively proven as beneficial in research.
I’m sure we’ll continue to see headlines for and against stretching, but if you choose to stretch, it may be best to customize your routine to fit your needs. Assess your body and your sport and make sure you stretch (and strengthen) in order to reduce muscle imbalances.
Why is range of movement important?
Range of movement naturally declines as we age. A good range of movement helps maintain muscle balance, prevent injury and improve posture and core strength / stability. It also helps prevent permanent shortening of movement in the joints.
How To Stretch
After exercise, cool down and hold a given stretch only until you feel a slight pulling in the muscle, but no pain. As you hold the stretch the muscle will relax. As you feel less tension you can increase the stretch again until you feel the same slight pull. Hold this position until you feel no further increase.If you do not seem to gain any range of motion using the above technique, you may consider holding the stretch longer (up to 60 seconds).