Stretching Reduces the Risk of Injuries: Fact or Fiction?

In the past, stretching was considered to be an important part of any training regime to help reduce the risk of injury.  But was it all in vain?  In recent years, the amount of studies looking into the evidence behind the effectiveness of stretching has steadily increased.

Here’s a summary of an article that aims to get to the bottom of it all:

A pragmatic randomised trial of stretching before and after physical activity to prevent injury and soreness.  British Journal of Sports Medicine 2010 44(14): 1002-1009

 

This was an interesting study.  It was large (2377 active adults) and looked at the effect that a 30 second stretch for seven major leg and trunk muscles had on the risk of injury and soreness. Definitely relevant for a lot of you runners out there who regularly use the traditional static stretches, in particular those for the legs, as part of your routine.

In the study, they allocated some participants to the stretch group.  As mentioned before, those in the stretch group performed 30 second static stretches for seven leg and trunk muscles over a 12 week period.  Those in the control group did not perform the stretches.

The conclusions they made were that stretching:

  • did not produce clinically important or statistically significant reductions in all-injury risk
  • did reduce the risk of experiencing bothersome soreness
  • reduced the risk of injuries to muscles, ligaments and tendons

This study was from a highly respected source and had positive outcomes regarding the reduction of the risk of some injuries, and also reducing muscle soreness that often comes with activity.  This is strong enough evidence for us to recommend that stretching can benefit you and your running.  Bear in mind, however, that each and every one of you are different, and with regards to injuries, it is always best to discuss it with your Physiotherapist.

If you’re interested in reading more about this study, please click here.  Unfortunately, only the abstract is available for free!

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