Stretching and Sports

[We pause momentarily from our election coverage to remind America that, yes, there’s life outside of the campaigns.]

For years now, I’ve been having a running argument about the value of stretching before exercise.

I grew up with a highly regimented (and very traditional) exercise routine that invariably followed the pattern of stretching followed by either weight-lifting or aerobic workout.  Before football games, our whole team would gather on the field for a group stretch which — apart from placing us in the appropriately regimented mindset — was honestly intended to prepare us, physically, for the game.

About a decade ago now I started reading some things about stretching.  In particular, the gathering consensus was that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, stretching not only didn’t help, but could actually hurt.

It now seems like that new hypothesis is correct: there’s no value in stretching before exercise, and it’s likely that it’s counterproductive.

The bigger point here is that just because grandpa told you something was the “right way to do it”, doesn’t mean it’s actually correct.  Given the changes that have taken place in the world even over the last 10 years or so, it still blows my mind that so many people still following the edicts of their ancestors without question.


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