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Sports Medicine Myths Part 2: Stretching Prevents Injuries

Posted on in Health & Fitness, Sports Medicine

Before you take to the basketball court or engage in an intense workout, chances are you stretch. After all, you have been taught by coaches, peers and even sports medicine doctors that stretching before sports activities or workout routines will prevent injury, but what if what you’ve always been told is wrong?

It may come as a surprise to you, but stretching done before, during or after a workout or sports activity could actually do you more harm than good.

stretching before exerciseWhy People Believe Stretching Before Exercise is a Good Idea

Stretching became a part of a pre-workout or pre-game routine because people believed it would help prevent injuries. This belief stemmed from the idea that stretching helped increase flexibility, improve blood flow and warmed up the muscles; all of which were believed to help reduce an individual’s chance of getting injured.

Unfortunately over time, it was discovered that stretching does the exact opposite. Instead of reducing the risk of injury, it could increase your chance of getting injured.

Stretching Could Actually Increase Risk for Injury During Workouts and Sports Activity

A recent study published by The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that individuals who engage in prolonged static stretch routines before a workout or sports activity could be increasing their injury risk. The study suggested that instead of helping the body, stretching actually weaken the body and cause muscle fatigue.

A weakened or fatigued body is more likely to be injured. This happens because people tend to use improper technique while working out or playing sports when they feel weak or fatigued. The usage of improper technique can result in injury.

So, Should You Stretch or Not?

Considering all the research suggests stretching before an intense workout or sports activity could result in injury, it may be tempting to just skip stretching completely. Unfortunately, that isn’t the best option.

It is best to skip long, intense stretch routines and opt for a shorter, briefer stretch. This will help you warm up the body without weakening it to the point that it becomes susceptible to injury.

Still unsure of what to do in regards to stretching, contact Southeast Orthopedic Specialists to schedule an appointment to speak with a Jacksonville orthopedic doctor who specializes in sports medicine. Our sports orthopedic doctors will be able to help you learn how to properly prepare for a favored sports activity or workout session without placing yourself in a position where you could become injured.

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