With all the confusing myths about stretching, one simply does not know anymore what to believe. In fact, in the past few years, it has been subjected to very negative press that lots of people have stopped doing it altogether. Should you do the same, or are these actually myths that have no basis?
Stretching Myths and Why You Should Stop Believing Them
- All Stretching Is The Same
The first part of the misconception is the idea that all stretching is the same and therefore carry the same risks and benefits. There are a few types of stretching exercises and they are different in their goals and how it is done.
The most popular are static and dynamic. Static stretching means extending the tissue and the joint for a long time without moving or changing position while dynamic stretching involves various movements or changes of position.
This being said, it is unfair to categorize all stretching under one label or say that stretching is just overall good or bad. Each type of stretching can bring different types of benefits; for example, static stretching is perfect for dance exercising or gymnastics, in order to improve flexibility. On the other hand, dynamic stretching seems to be helpful in jumping or running sports.
A fitness regimen is designed specifically for a person based on his goals and capabilities, and this should be the same approach when it comes to stretching. For example, static stretching might be beneficial for women and older people.
- You Should Stretch Before the Workout
In general, static stretching is best when the body is warming up, and not before. Doing so will just increase the chances of pulling a muscle while stretching. Try jogging a little or doing jumping jacks before stretching or do dynamic stretching. This is a much better way to prepare for your workout.
- Stretching Will Protect You from Injury
This is not completely false because stretching will still provide some sort of protection when done correctly. This is because it improves the flow of blood to your muscles and widens the joints’ range of motion. However, those who do not stretch are not more likely to get injured and even if you do stretch, you are still just as likely to pull a muscle.
- Stretching Ups Your Performance
This is also only partially true because if you are working out in the gym or training for recreation, dynamic stretching can make muscles loosen up. You will find it much easier to do specific exercises or movements by improving your range of motion. However, competitive athletes like weightlifters or sprinters will find it counterproductive because the stretching will overwork the same muscles they need to perform at their sport.
- It Is Not Necessary to Stretch After a Workout
Skipping stretching exercises after a workout is not going to hurt you, but stretching will bring some benefits. You might be able to combat soreness and fatigue of your muscles, as well as improve blood flow. This will quicken the recovery process after the workout, allowing you to go for another workout much sooner than without stretching.
- You Cannot Overstretch
This is a completely false belief because you can easily pull or strain any muscle when you stretch it too quickly and too strongly. If it does not feel right or you experience some pain while stretching, then do not force it.
- Stretching is the Same as Foam Rolling
These are not to be interchanged, because foam rolling provides muscles a myofascial release, much like when you are getting a deep tissue massage. Moreover, foam rolling is great at quickening up the body’s recovery process by breaking down any scar tissue in the body. Compared to stretching, foam rolling goes deeper into the fascia, unlike simple stretching. However, stretching will improve flexibility. To improve your chances of quick recovery, you should consider doing both.
The question whether stretching is good or bad is not as simple, especially since you should consider the situation and at the same time, your body. Much like exercise, you should do what suits your body’s abilities and what is in line with your workout or sports goals. In some cases, you will find a specific type of stretching very beneficial, at times not. If you are unsure, you should consult with a trainer to determine whether it makes sense for you to do it.