Stretching the Good & The Bad

Physiotherapist William Howatt performing an upper trap neck stretch virtually

What Is Stretching?

For decades stretching has been associated with sports and gyms, you walk into a gym and see a variety of sports being performed. Now ask yourself, would you see anyone stretching? 

The answer is likely yes. 

Stretching has been widely distributed on TV and through media as a mans to decrease injury risk, decrease soreness and improve sport performance. We were taught it in primary school and likely all practiced it to some extent. But how effective is it? 

Two main forms of stretching exist: Dynamic and static. 

Dynamic Stretching

Involves continuous movement around a joint that extends its range of motion compared to a constant hold. Similar to static, one of dynamic stretching aim is to decrease injuries and increase performance, the main difference here is that dynamic also increases blood flow to the areas that will be used during the sport. 

Static Stretching

Unlike dynamic, does not increase blood flow to the area and is instead focused on holding a particular position for an extended period of time.

So you may be wondering what are the perceived benefits to stretching?

Benefits To Stretching

It has been long thought that static stretching prior to exercise and movement helps to: 

  1. Decrease risk of injury
  2. Decrease muscle soreness 
  3. Improve sport performance
It is thought to do the above by increasing muscle length and flexibility as well as increasing the range of motion available to a joint, which all has been hypothesized to decrease injury risk, increase performance. 

What Does The Research Say?

No significant relationships have been found with performing static stretching prior to exercise and sport relating to decreasing risk of total injury prevention and improving sport performance. 

However, static stretching MAY play a role in decreasing tendon and ligament injuries. 

So should I stop static stretching?

If you are performing static stretching in hopes to decrease your risk of injury and improve performance in the task you are warming up for the answer is yes, your time would be better off performing active dynamic stretching, sport specific movement preparation and general cardiovascular warm up to increase heart rate. 



It is time to ditch the group circle stretch sessions, trying to touch your toes and the standard butterfly stretch. Your time will be better off spent in other areas in preparation for the exercise you are about to perform. 

Looking to book a FREE discovery call to see how physiotherapy could help you design the perfect warm up for you? Click HERE

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