What are the Benefits of Stretching?

Stretching is often performed by athletes, older adults, the injured and uninjured.

How can I stretch?

There are 4 main types of stretching, but two of the most commonly prescribed are; Static and Dynamic. Depending on your individual presentation and assessment, stretching is often prescribed by physiotherapists and exercise physiologists. It is important to keep in mind that joint flexibility is activity and context specific. Therefore, not all individuals benefit from increased flexibility/range of motion.

Static stretching is where a muscle is placed in a lengthened position which is challenging but comfortable, and the ‘stretch sensation’ is felt and held for 20-30 seconds.

Dynamic stretching is an active movement where joints and muscles go through full range of motion. These are the stretches often seen performed by sports teams prior to their game.

When will it help me?

For sports people, it is recommended a dynamic warm up is more beneficial than a static routine. This is particularly important if the activity/sport requires explosive and powerful movements. Dynamic stretching is most beneficial when incorporated into a warm-up, which has been shown to reduce risk of injury.

As dynamic stretching and warm-ups for injury prevention must be individualised it is important to ask your physiotherapist or exercise physiologist for help.

Static stretching can be beneficial for people who spend time in prolonged positions (ie. if you spend extended time at a computer or seated desk). Performing regular stretches and activity throughout the workday will ensure that your joints and muscles are moving; reducing your overall risk of developing aches and pains.

Misconceptions on Stretching:

  • Many studies have shown that static stretching does not improve overall performance when performed prior to activity. It potentially can reduce overall peak performance in populations requiring high power movement.
  • Unfortunately, stretching does not ‘cure’ the dreaded Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). It may provide temporary pain relief, but the effects are not long-lasting.
  • Genetics can influence your capacity to stretch and increase overall flexibility. Avoid comparing your level of flexibility to your friends/colleagues/team-mates as everyone is different.

If you would like a review of your current routine, or to be prescribed a specific stretching program for your sport, contact us today at Physiotas.

About the Author:

Amy Whitney is a Physiotherapist for Physiotas in Launceston.

Amy returned to her hometown of Launceston after completing a Master of Physiotherapy degree at the University of South Australia in 2018. Prior to this she completed a Bachelor of Health Science at the University of Tasmania in 2015.

Amy has spent time as a football sports trainer, as well as coaching junior netball and touch football teams. She has an interest in a range of musculoskeletal areas of physiotherapy including sports injuries, pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation and paediatrics.

Amy’s interests outside of work include exploring the local mountain bike trails, spending time with her two dogs and playing netball, basketball and touch football.