The Zoomer Report: To Stretch or Not

Here’s some timely information now that it’s the season where many of us are getting back into exercise routines. Should we stretch first? It used to be a given that touching your toes, or stretching out your legs for 30 seconds or more, would make you looser, stronger and injury-proof.

But researchers have discovered this type of static stretching can lessen your speed and performance, without substantially reducing the chances of getting hurt.

One study in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research finds that if you stretch before you lift weights, you may feel weaker and less stable during your workout. For this research, young men performed standard squats with barbells after either first stretching or not. After stretching, the amount of weight they could manage dropped by 8 percent.

Another study from Croatia concluded that stretching before a workout should be avoided because stretched muscles are less strong. This work in The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports also concluded that stretching reduces strength and explosive muscular performance — the proverbial getting out of the blocks.

Bottom line: the researchers say a better choice is to warm-up by moving the muscles you will use in your workout.

Libby ZnaimerAbout The Zoomer Report
Libby Znaimer, a prominent Canadian journalist specializing in business, politics, and lifestyle issues, is producer and host of The Zoomer Report, a special feature on topics of interest to baby boomers and the 50+. It covers everything from health and wealth to leisure and volunteerism, from the special vantage point of the generation that has changed society in its wake.

Ms. Znaimer is also Vice-President of News and Information for Classical 96.3FM and AM740. Her first book, “In Cancerland – Living Well Is The Best Revenge” – was published in October 2007 by Key Porter.