By Michael Anderson, Chartered Physiotherapist at Horder Healthcare
Why do we stretch before exercising?
As a musculoskeletal physiotherapist and a previous personal trainer, I have given out specific muscular stretches or stretching routines to hundreds of people for various reasons, including as part of a warm up prior to performing exercise such as running. Some would have taken on board my advice on what stretches would benefit them but I reckon some would have thought "I haven't got time to do that".
So, is stretching really that important and why do a variety of health, fitness and well-being professionals as well as fitness blogs and magazines advocate stretches and encourage us to perform them?
A brief history
When we hear the word "stretching", most of us will think back to our childhood physical education lessons and being asked to move into a position and either hold that position or bounce our body weight in and out of said position. For years, people thought that any stretch was a good stretch as it had the ability to make them feel more comfortable, however, recently health professionals and researchers have begun to debate the effects of stretching both in and out of the sporting environment and the type of stretching that is of most benefit.