Stretching Before Exercise May Be Harmful

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Want a better workout? Then don't stretch beforehand, some experts say.
Many people take it for granted that they should start their exercise routines with some stretching on the spot, perhaps hoping it will loosen them up for their workout. Most fitness experts now agree this kind of static stretching before exercise is not just counter-productive, but potentially harmful.
Traditional stretches, like when people bend over to touch their toes or stretch their legs on a fence, often cause the muscles to tighten rather than relax — exactly the opposite of what is needed for physical activity.
Experts say it is like extending a rubber band to its limit. When people stretch to the maximum, they are more likely to pull a muscle.
"We have developed this idea of static stretching at exactly the wrong time," said Kieran O'Sullivan, an exercise expert at the University of Limerick in Ireland, who has studied various types of stretching and their impact on athletes.
When you stretch before exercising, your body may think it's at risk of being overstretched. It compensates by contracting and becoming more tense. That means you aren't able to move as fast or as freely, making you more likely to get hurt.
Read Full Story at MSNBC Health.