Many people stretch. Stretching is part of Yoga and runners for years would stretch before running, although the practice has been losing fans in favor of pre-run warmup exercises.
It has long been assumed that stretching improves flexibility. While this may be true in growing children, we now know that fascia not only controls movement but also is involved in tightness. The fascia is like an exoskeleton in the human body and is made up of hyaluronic acid which does not stretch. Fascia can only be stretched once it is elevated to a temperature of 103 degrees. This may only be possible by sitting in a hot tub at 104 degrees for about 15 minutes which is difficult to tolerate.
When you stretch muscles, you are actually stretching fascia which as stated before does not stretch. One study I read years ago suggested that the maximum benefit of stretching is about 1 hour. There is evidence that holding a stretch for a while actually decreased strength.
Unfortunately, trainers, doctors, and other health professionals such as physical therapists continue to advocate stretching to help improve problems the patient may be having. Many of our patients who visit us for the first time say that the stretching made no difference to how they felt and the effect if any was temporary at best.
Outside Magazine recently published a well-thought-out article that shows the myths and facts about stretching. Certain tissues in the body will benefit from stretching including shoulder and hip capsules. For tight muscles, foam rolling is much more effective and easy to perform.
Check the article out below
The Case Against Stretching
Scientists are increasingly skeptical of the benefits of flexibility, but the fitness world doesn’t want to hear it
To be honest, writing another “stretching is useless” article feels a little bit like spiking the football. A decade ago, whenever I wrote about evidence suggesting that traditional static stretching doesn’t have any obvious benefits and might even impair performance, I’d get a stream of angry messages upbraiding me for my ignorance. These days, the battle is over. No one is obsessed with touching their toes anymore.
Or so I thought. But when I saw a new opinion piece in Sports Medicine titled “The Case for Retiring Flexibility as a Major Component of Physical Fitness,” I couldn’t resist giving it a look. And one of the stats in the article caught my eye. According to a 2016 study of 605 personal trainers in the U.S.—virtually all of whom had certifications from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) or the National Strength and Conditioning Association—80 percent of them still prescribed traditional static stretching to their clients. The battle’s not over after all.
The main spur for the Sports Medicine article, by exercise scientist James Nuzzo, is the fact that flexibility is still pegged as one of the five “major components” of physical fitness, alongside body composition, cardiovascular endurance, muscle endurance, and muscle strength, by the ACSM. The 2018 edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, from the Department of Health and Human Services, also lists flexibility among its big five (this time alongside cardiorespiratory fitness, musculoskeletal fitness, balance, and speed).