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Stretching to Prevent Soreness? Think Again

Ever feel sore after a workout? Many people experience this stiffness, also called delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, for short. Its usually experienced by those who may be a little out of shape, or after a particularly difficult or new workout session. Nearly all workout programs include a small amount of stretching before or after the workout with many objectives in mind.

Stretching is believed to be helpful with warming up, preventing injury, and up to this point, with preventing muscle soreness after your workout. Lead researcher Rober Herbert, at the School of Physiotherapy at the University of Sydney describes that it continues to be a useful tool in workouts, but may not do everything we believe it does.

In the study, researchers looked at 10 relevant trials which had included anywhere from 10 to 30 participants, examining stretchers and non-stretchers in all but one laboratory studies. Each of the trials examined had participants perform exercises in conjunction with varying combinations and lengths of stretching, lasting 40 seconds to 10 minutes.

The researchers then quantified the results using a 100 point scale. It was then concluded that stretching has an extremely small effect on muscle stiffness or soreness, regardless of when it was performed, or for the duration it was performed. The results showed a difference in 1 point on the 100 point scale, showing that there was some validity to the previous claim, but that it was negligible.

Robert Herbert points out that stretching is still valuable when it comes to improving flexibility and reducing the chances of injury if performed regularly and correctly. Since this research only examined young, healthy adults, more can be researched in the aging demographic to determine any specific differences that stretching can have.


John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (2007, October 16). Stretching Out Does Not Prevent Soreness After Exercise. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­/releases/2007/10/071016195932.htm

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