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Stretching decrease chances of injury.



Senior Member
Oct 21, 2010
Stretching not only improves appearance, lengthens muscles, and gives that lean, toned look on stage, but it also improves fitness and health. It is the ultimate for preventing injuries; in fact, at least 50% fewer overextension injuries are reported with athletes who use a regular stretching routine compared to those who don't! Stretching is a great warmup or cooldown and improves muscular coordination, as well as prevents soreness and promotes faster recovery.

Who should stretch?
Everybody can benefit from the positive aspects of stretching! The best thing to do is to follow a regular stretching routine or program of stretching exercises. Any age of person can stretch and benefit from the baby to great-grandpa. All athletes should obviously include stretching along with their training...even many professional teams now have a flexibility trainer. Granted, some people are stretchier than others...but that's no excuse! Women are usually more flexible than men, children more flexible than adults...but you already knew that right?

Why should you stretch?
For one thing, jump on the bandwagon...many champions in bodybuilding, sports, and olympics use regular stretching routines. Look at Lee Haney, Tom Platz, David Robinson, John Stockton, Shannon Sharpe, Mike Johnson...just to name a fact, I bet pretty much every professional athlete stretches! But, what are the real reasons to stretch? What benefits does more flexibility give you?

* "It builds bigger, better-quality muscles." --Boyer Coe (World Pro Grand Prix Champion)
* Stretching helps prevent postural problems.
* It results in far less muscle-pulling overextension injuries compared to not stretching.
* Simple stretches increase range of motion.
* It improves muscle appearance.
* Flexibilty exercises help prevent overuse injuries from occuring.
* Stretching gives you more flexibility, which prevents soreness, allowing for faster recovery and better muscle growth.
* Stretching allows for a more active lifestyle later in life.
* It invigorates the circulatory, respiratory and neuromuscular systems.

When should you stretch?
The best of the best will tell you that stretching will improve appearance, flexibility, health, and overall performance. First, warm-up for 5-10 minutes at a low intensity (such as the elliptical machine, exercise bike, or treading mill) and stretch the muscles used. If your workout time allows it, a cardiovascular exercise for at least 20 minutes at a faster pace is recommended. Then, a 5-10 minute cooldown at low intensity should be completed. cool down for 5-10 minutes at a low intensity (50-60 percent of your maximum heart rate). Now that you've warmed up, you should stretch every major muscle group.

Always stretch after you warm up! Warm muscles stretch much easier than cold muscles.

Best case scenario is to stretch every single day for a minimum of 10-15 minutes. At the least, 3-4 times per week. A 10-15 minute stretching warmup is preferrable. In addition, recuperation can greatly be increased when one stretches 10-15 minutes as a cooldown. Another good time to stretch is right before bed. It relaxes the muscles and will help you unwind from the tension of the day and have a good night's sleep.

Stretch between weightlifting sets to keep your muscles flexible and "loose". Your muscles will appreciate the added rest and recuperation given to them between sets when the static stretching principle is applied. If your pressed for time (nearly all of us are) then the best stretching routine may be to do a light warm up (maybe 5-10 minutes on the bike),then proceed with your usual workout, stretching between sets as you go. When you are done with your workout, you will have thoroughly stretched all of the major muscle groups without taking up much additional time. If you apply this method, it will soon become a subconscious event to stretch in between sets and exercises.

How should you stretch?
Stretching should not include bouncing, it should be gentle, slow, and controlled if you want to receive most of the benefits. This type of stretching is called static stretching. We recommend static stretching for all the major muscle groups.

Always stretch opposing muscle groups such as biceps/triceps, hamstrings/quads, abs/lowerback. Stretching only one of a muscle group creates an imbalance, which can cause a decrease in flexibilty.

Bouncing seems like it would be effective, but it actually causes your muscles to slightly flex as a reflex to the bounce. Also, it's better if you gradually ease into the stretch, so as to not pull or injure any muscle fibers. It's not uncommon to take 30-60 seconds to ease to the point of your stretch. This maximum point is what experts refer to as the "pain edge". Once you find this maximum point, try and hold the stretch a little less than the point of feeling pain. That is your stretch zone and it's where you should strive to hold the stretch (not any further),working up to 2 minutes of holding.

Keep your beathing soft and consistent in a normal rhythm during the hold. Relax and move on to the next movement. Over time, you will gain more flexibility and be able to stretch further with more comfort.

Take home message: Stretch, period. And never stretch a cold muscle to prevent injuries.
dr jim

dr jim

Apr 7, 2014
Recent literature (past 5 years) has revealed the importance of pre-exercise stretching was grossly overrated.
Fact is in well controlled trials stretching has never been shown to DECREASE injury rates AND depending on the specifics may actually INCREASE the chances of injury!

The bottom line to much of a "good thing" can and often is BAD.

For most LIFTERS all that is required is flexibility movements at the limits of ROM before each exercise. However prolonged "stretching" has been shown to loosen ligaments, muscles and tendons which can adversely effect joint continuity and become a predisposition to SUBLUXATION especially during heavy lifts.



Senior Member
Jan 7, 2014
Dr Jim is spot on. If you insist on stretching, it should be reserved for after training. I've posted a couple of studies below that show stretching before weight training results in a pretty significant reduction in performance.

The first study found participants that stretched prior to training saw an 8.3% reduction of 1RM and a 22.68% decline in stability.

The second study is a meta-analysis of 104 previous studies that looked at the effect static stretching had on subsequent performance. They found stretching impeded performance and reduced strength in the stretched muscles by almost 5.5 percent with a reduction in power of roughly 2%. The effect was greater the longer the stretch was held.

J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Apr;27(4):973-7. Acute effect of passive static stretching on lower-body strength in moderately trained men.
Gergley JC.


The purpose of this investigation was conducted to determine the acute effect of passive static stretching (PSS) of the lower-body musculature on lower-body strength in a 1 repetition maximum (1RM) squat exercise in young (18-24 years.) moderately trained men (n = 17). Two supervised warm-up treatments were applied before each performance testing session using a counterbalanced design on nonconsecutive days. The first treatment consisted of an active dynamic warm-up (AD) with resistance machines (i.e., leg extension/leg flexion) and free weights (i.e., barbell squat),whereas the second treatment added PSS of the lower body plus the AD treatment. One repetition maximum was determined using the maximum barbell squat following a progressive loading protocol. Subjects were also asked to subjectively evaluate their lower-body stability during 1RM testing sessions for both the AD and PSS treatments. A significant decrease in 1RM (8.36%) and lower-body stability (22.68%) was observed after the PSS treatment. Plausible explanations for this observation may be related to a more compliant muscle tendon unit and/or altered or impaired neurologic function in the active musculature. It is also possible that strength was impaired by the PSS because of joint instability. The findings of this study suggest that intensive stretching such as lower-body PSS should be avoided before training the lower body or performing the 1RM in the squat exercise in favor of an AD dynamic warm-up using resistance training equipment in the lower-body musculature.

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2013 Mar;23(2):131-48. Does pre-exercise static stretching inhibit maximal muscular performance? A meta-analytical review.

Simic L[SUP]1[/SUP], Sarabon N, Markovic G.


We applied a meta-analytical approach to derive a robust estimate of the acute effects of pre-exercise static stretching (SS) on strength, power, and explosive muscular performance. A computerized search of articles published between 1966 and December 2010 was performed using PubMed, SCOPUS, and Web of Science databases. A total of 104 studies yielding 61 data points for strength, 12 data points for power, and 57 data points for explosive performance met our inclusion criteria. The pooled estimate of the acute effects of SS on strength, power, and explosive performance, expressed in standardized units as well as in percentages, were -0.10 [95% confidence interval (CI): -0.15 to -0.04], -0.04 (95% CI: -0.16 to 0.08),and -0.03 (95% CI: -0.07 to 0.01),or -5.4% (95% CI: -6.6% to -4.2%),-1.9% (95% CI: -4.0% to 0.2%),and -2.0% (95% CI: -2.8% to -1.3%). These effects were not related to subject's age, gender, or fitness level; however, they were more pronounced in isometric vs dynamic tests, and were related to the total duration of stretch, with the smallest negative acute effects being observed with stretch duration of ≤ 45 s. We conclude that the usage of SS as the sole activity during warm-up routine should generally be avoided.


TID Board Of Directors
Apr 29, 2012
Thanks Doc Jim and CBS for making the point I wanted to, and for doing it so very well.

Stretching has a place in training, but it needs to be done sparingly and with caution and specific knowledge of what you are doing.


Oct 12, 2012
I agree that stretching is really important for injury prevention. Here's Jay Cutler using a leg stretcher and talking about how important flexibility is. Skip to about the 46:30 mark.