Stretching Doesn't Reduce Muscle Soreness After Exercise

Review of studies finds almost no benefit from stretching either before or after workouts

MONDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Stretching before or after exercise does not reduce subsequent muscle soreness in young, healthy adults, according to a review of studies published online Oct. 17 in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Robert D. Herbert, Ph.D., of the University of Sydney in Australia, and a colleague reviewed 10 randomized trials that examined stretching of any type conducted soon before or soon after exercise. All studies involved young, healthy adults and all but one were conducted in laboratory settings. Varying estimates of stretching effectiveness were converted to a common 100-point scale.

Pooled results showed that pre-exercise stretching reduced soreness one day after exercise by, on average, 0.5 out of a possible 100 points, and that post-exercise stretching reduced soreness by 1.0 points out of 100 one day after exercise. Similar effects were observed at a half-day after exercise and three days after exercise.

"Arguably the findings of this review are clear enough that further research into the effects of stretching on muscle soreness is not necessary," the authors conclude. "We see some merit in this view. However, in our opinion it would be useful to conduct further trials of the effects of longer-term stretching programs, in community-based populations and for people with reduced flexibility."

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