Is Stretching Truly Necessary?

So a little back story as to why I’m even asking this… when I first started lifting, I researched so much about stretching, mobility, warmups, cool downs, recovery, foam rolling, etc… I even had a coach for a couple years who helped me with form checks and answering any questions I had about those things. But I kept dealing with injuries.
My husband, on the other hand, had been lifting for 10-12 years and NEVER dealt with an injury.. and he never did any of those things. He didn’t stretch, work on mobility, or foam roll. He simply made sure he ate good and slept a lot.

So I’m wondering, is stretching or any of the other things actually truly necessary or beneficial? I’ve read some articles that say that it really isn’t.

Thoughts? Advice?

Replies

  • boilerdawg2009
    boilerdawg2009 Posts: 919 Member
    I would say your husband is more the exception than the rule. I spent Mon-Sat of last week being much more active than I have been in a long time and Saturday night and all day yesterday I was extremely sore. Figured it might help to incorporate some yoga. After just 10 minutes last night and again this morning, all of that soreness is gone!
  • wunderkindking
    wunderkindking Posts: 1,607 Member
    I. I think that maybe risk mitigation is always just smart.

    It's a fairly easy thing to do, and even if you're one of the people who would never get an injury without it, why would you NOT do the fairly easy thing that stacks the deck a bit heavier in favor of you not getting hurt?

    I run dogs in agility and disc. Lots of impact, lots of twisting movements. I stretch and warm up my dogs because it hurts nothing and might prevent an injury. They might NOT get hurt if I don't do those things, but why would I not spend those few minutes doing the thing that might prevent it?

    Same thing with me.

    Am I going to hurt myself if I don't stretch before lifting (or working out)? Dunno. But I'm going to do the thing that MIGHT prevent it, and is definitely not going to make injury MORE likely. Doing otherwise just doesn't even make sense to me.
  • Lietchi
    Lietchi Posts: 4,041 Member
    I warm up, but I never stretch. I've never really felt any benefit, but who knows, maybe I'm playing with fire? :confused:

    I would like to be more flexible, but currently lack the motivation to do anything about it. But if I started stretching, I'd do it after exercising not before.
    I tried stretching before strength training and I found it decreased my performance.

    I found these articles: https://www.bu.edu/articles/2015/stretch-before-exercise-not-so-fast/
    https://www.shapescale.com/blog/health/how-why-you-should-stretch-before-weight-training/
    So I guess we should distinguish between static stretches and dynamic stretches?
  • allnaturalmama
    allnaturalmama Posts: 12 Member
    I would say your husband is more the exception than the rule. I spent Mon-Sat of last week being much more active than I have been in a long time and Saturday night and all day yesterday I was extremely sore. Figured it might help to incorporate some yoga. After just 10 minutes last night and again this morning, all of that soreness is gone!

    Stretching does feel good and does seem to relieve some soreness, but again these articles I’ve read said it’s more of a placebo effect as opposed to actually doing anything 🤷‍♀️ Not sure what to believe haha 🙃
  • allnaturalmama
    allnaturalmama Posts: 12 Member
    I. I think that maybe risk mitigation is always just smart.

    It's a fairly easy thing to do, and even if you're one of the people who would never get an injury without it, why would you NOT do the fairly easy thing that stacks the deck a bit heavier in favor of you not getting hurt?

    I run dogs in agility and disc. Lots of impact, lots of twisting movements. I stretch and warm up my dogs because it hurts nothing and might prevent an injury. They might NOT get hurt if I don't do those things, but why would I not spend those few minutes doing the thing that might prevent it?

    Same thing with me.

    Am I going to hurt myself if I don't stretch before lifting (or working out)? Dunno. But I'm going to do the thing that MIGHT prevent it, and is definitely not going to make injury MORE likely. Doing otherwise just doesn't even make sense to me.


    That’s why it’s hard for me to believe that stretching ISN’T necessary because that’s what I’ve read and been taught since I got into working out 🤷‍♀️
  • allnaturalmama
    allnaturalmama Posts: 12 Member
    Lietchi wrote: »
    I warm up, but I never stretch. I've never really felt any benefit, but who knows, maybe I'm playing with fire? :confused:

    I would like to be more flexible, but currently lack the motivation to do anything about it. But if I started stretching, I'd do it after exercising not before.
    I tried stretching before strength training and I found it decreased my performance.

    I found these articles: https://www.bu.edu/articles/2015/stretch-before-exercise-not-so-fast/
    https://www.shapescale.com/blog/health/how-why-you-should-stretch-before-weight-training/
    So I guess we should distinguish between static stretches and dynamic stretches?

    I understand the importance of warming up! And I guess I’m wondering more about static stretching. I do know that static stretching before weight training isn’t advised.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,836 Member
    Essential or beneficial for what goal(s)?

    Essential? Dunno, probably not.

    Beneficial? For me, yes, for increased flexibility, a sensation that I'd describe as feeling like my joints have been lightly oiled (metaphor, not literal of course), minimization of certain kinds of discomfort I've found myself prone to. Mostly, to the extent I do stretch, it's not as part of a cardio/weight exercise session, but a separate thing.

    For sure, I don't stretch *before* other exercise. I do warm up, but usually just by going lighter at whatever I'm going to be doing for a brief time, or by doing a short bit of low-intensity cardio before strength training.

    Often stretching or foam rolling helps me feel less tight/constrained and generally just better, if I have sore muscles. Could be a placebo effect, but I don't care; if I'm doing it to feel nicer, and I feel nicer, it did its job, even if my imagination is the apparatus. 😉 To some extent, I feel like it just brings my attention very clearly to the area that's sore or tight, so I can relax it by intention.

    I suspect that if particular body areas are so tight that they negatively affect movement patterns, leading to dysfunctional use of the body, stretching could help with injury avoidance. For sure, physical therapy I've had has involved assessment then prescription of specific stretching (sometimes also strengthening) to improve movement patterns. I do think the PT has helped avoid repeating the injuries/problems that got me to PT in the first place.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,633 Member
    Stretching is helpful and beneficial for me.
    As a cyclist my legs tend to lose flexibility and I find maintaining my flexibility a good thing for me. I also can't kneel down without pain due to knee injuries so being comfortable in a low squat helps with low down work.

    The management of my back/spinal injuries is also helped by stretching/mobility work. I wouldn't say it's essential for my sport and working out.

    Saw an extreme example at Wimbledon tennis, a player's foot slipped away and he did a full sideways split. Got up and carried on as he was very flexible and that unexpected movement was within his ROM. That slip could have ended his tournament. For him I would say stretching is essential.

    If none of this applies to you and flexibility / ROM isn't important to you then don't bother.

    PS - some people are injury prone and others are not, you can't necessarily assign what they do / don't do as part of their routine as being anything more than an anecdote. What helps you is the important thing, it doesn't sound like your husband has an issue he needs to fix but you do (but stretching might not be the "cure").
  • SnifterPug
    SnifterPug Posts: 746 Member
    I never stretch before weight training. I might stretch a bit during, but only if a muscle is threatening to cramp (hello, hamstrings).

    I always warm up but that generally involves doing a couple of sets of the main compound lifts I am doing that day with the bar or with a very light weight for about 10 reps.

    I am pretty good about stretching afterwards, and sometimes I foam roll if I've had tight muscles. I have to say that I generally feel stiffer the next day or have worse DOMS if I have not bothered to stretch. Then I just have to attack myself with a massage gun so I don't save much time in the end.
  • Cherimoose
    Cherimoose Posts: 5,210 Member
    Muscles are sort of like strings on a guitar - you loosen the ones that need it, and leave the other ones alone, since they need to stay a certain tension. If you have specific areas that are chronically tight, then stretching them will help loosen them. But many people don't know how to properly diagnose their problem areas, so if you're unsure, see a physical therapist. For those without problem areas, exercising & being active is what maintains limberness, provided you move your joints through their full range of motion regularly.
    Have you seen a PT for your injuries?
  • allnaturalmama
    allnaturalmama Posts: 12 Member
    Cherimoose wrote: »
    Muscles are sort of like strings on a guitar - you loosen the ones that need it, and leave the other ones alone, since they need to stay a certain tension. If you have specific areas that are chronically tight, then stretching them will help loosen them. But many people don't know how to properly diagnose their problem areas, so if you're unsure, see a physical therapist. For those without problem areas, exercising & being active is what maintains limberness, provided you move your joints through their full range of motion regularly.
    Have you seen a PT for your injuries?

    All my injuries have resolved over the years except an old shoulder injury. Technically my shoulder doesn’t hurt anymore but it feels tight and weak because I haven’t worked out consistently for some time, especially upper body because of my shoulder 🤷‍♀️
  • allnaturalmama
    allnaturalmama Posts: 12 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    Essential or beneficial for what goal(s)?

    Essential? Dunno, probably not.

    Beneficial? For me, yes, for increased flexibility, a sensation that I'd describe as feeling like my joints have been lightly oiled (metaphor, not literal of course), minimization of certain kinds of discomfort I've found myself prone to. Mostly, to the extent I do stretch, it's not as part of a cardio/weight exercise session, but a separate thing.

    For sure, I don't stretch *before* other exercise. I do warm up, but usually just by going lighter at whatever I'm going to be doing for a brief time, or by doing a short bit of low-intensity cardio before strength training.

    Often stretching or foam rolling helps me feel less tight/constrained and generally just better, if I have sore muscles. Could be a placebo effect, but I don't care; if I'm doing it to feel nicer, and I feel nicer, it did its job, even if my imagination is the apparatus. 😉 To some extent, I feel like it just brings my attention very clearly to the area that's sore or tight, so I can relax it by intention.

    I suspect that if particular body areas are so tight that they negatively affect movement patterns, leading to dysfunctional use of the body, stretching could help with injury avoidance. For sure, physical therapy I've had has involved assessment then prescription of specific stretching (sometimes also strengthening) to improve movement patterns. I do think the PT has helped avoid repeating the injuries/problems that got me to PT in the first place.


    The only areas I feel like would be beneficial to stretch for me personally are my lats, chest, and hips. Due to an old shoulder injury, my lats and chest often feel tight and weak. And then because I have two kiddos I’m often squatting down.. which tends to suck if my hips feel tight haha.
    But otherwise everything else seems kind of pointless. Even working on mobility throughout the entire body.. it just doesn’t seem to make sense to me unless it’s directly needed for the person’s sport or it’s effecting their daily movements 🤷‍♀️
  • rosebarnalice
    rosebarnalice Posts: 3,483 Member
    For me, there are certain areas I always stretch because if I don't I'll cramp or tighten severely. The arch of my foot is notorious for cramping when I swim if I don't stretch my arches and hammies before I start.

    But for other muscle groups, I don't worry about it so much-- I just start my swim with a very easy pace for the the first couple of laps, which seems to do the trick for everything except the feet :-) !
  • dmkoenig
    dmkoenig Posts: 299 Member
    Here's a brief article from Runners Connect on stretching. https://runnersconnect.net/to-stretch-or-not-to-stretch/ They have some other stretching articles which are all based on established science. Basically, static stretching when you are cold prior to working out is not recommended. Muscles should be plenty warm. Post-exercise, stretching can have benefits . While their articles are oriented towards running, I have also seen similar content on other reputable sites. General school of thought is static stretching is to be avoided, active stretching (i.e. movement-oriented) when your muscles are warm is fine. Personally, I find going through a series of yoga flow movements after a workout is really good for me, especially since I am an old guy and loss of flexibility goes hand in hand with aging. I typically do 10-15 minutes of repetitive yoga movements after a hard workout, each time trying to go a bit deeper. The only thing I really spend extended time in is a pigeon pose because I have a history of really tight hip flexors. I'll hold each side for 1-2 minutes and progressively get deeper. I find that really helpful.
  • sgt1372
    sgt1372 Posts: 3,969 Member
    I never stretch and have never been injured as a result.

  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 46,187 Member
    So a little back story as to why I’m even asking this… when I first started lifting, I researched so much about stretching, mobility, warmups, cool downs, recovery, foam rolling, etc… I even had a coach for a couple years who helped me with form checks and answering any questions I had about those things. But I kept dealing with injuries.
    My husband, on the other hand, had been lifting for 10-12 years and NEVER dealt with an injury.. and he never did any of those things. He didn’t stretch, work on mobility, or foam roll. He simply made sure he ate good and slept a lot.

    So I’m wondering, is stretching or any of the other things actually truly necessary or beneficial? I’ve read some articles that say that it really isn’t.

    Thoughts? Advice?
    Stretching is for one main reason........flexibility. If one doesn't care about it, it's NOT necessary.

    Stretching DOESN'T decrease injury since most injuries happen in moments of impact not related to stretching.

    However flexibility is needed in many exercises to perform them correctly and lack of it can hamper any progress.\


    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

    9285851.png