Jump to content
BodylineHealth

Is stretching for athletes a waste of time?

Recommended Posts

Hi Kit & Olivia (and fellow ST's),

On doing some research for an article for the upcoming Tri season (we sponsor the local Tri series), I came across this article on stretching. To be fair, it is from 2010, but I'd be really interested in your comments.

http://triathlon.competitor.com/2010/08/training/injury-prevention-is-stretching-beneficial-to-triathletes_11112

Thanks guys,

Holly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One comment, Holly: there is no evidence to show that stretching does not have any of its alledged benefits, either (because most of the research is deeply flawed); moreover, "stretching": what kind, what frequency, for what purpose, and over what time frame?

The fact is that the research is ambiguous and "controversial" as the reporter claims—because it has not been done at all well. There is a long history of this kind of simplistic reporting and simplistic research (and always reporting on the non-benefits!). Safe to ignore. Others please comment!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would have to disagree whole heartedly with the article. For many reasons, but though there may or may not be an absence of ´statistical or scientific´data, there is the presence of common sense, and in my experience and knowledge, using an educated common sense approach often produces better choices in application than scientific data (which I know as a previous scientist of psychology that ´data´is often flawed and most often finds the results it sets out to seek).

I´d have question anyone's motive in not wanting to promote work that makes a body more flexible so that it moves more freely and efficiently ... even if it doesn´t shave 5 mins of a run, swim or cycle ... it sure does feel good (well Kit´s method does) ... science gripe over.

In my experience, tri athletes mainly neglect a stretch program because they already do so much training that they they report not having the time to fit stretching in. And in order to do SOME stretching they tend to engage in stretching that is dated, minimal and methods that achieve nothing worthwhile and fail to improve ROM or address alignment. It doesn´t then take a genius to discover that this type of application of 'stretching' improves nothing. Had this scientific study used Stretch Therapy as it´s control group, very different results may have been recorded. Though I have convinced a handful in the last 2 years to try, which they have come for 2 classes at the most and then drop it due to time factors. One of 2 have then reported that it didn´t help them after this ... Hello!

However, I have worked with 2 triathletes recently and one retired (retired due to pain etc) and of the 2 still competing who took the time to attend consistently reported the following:

No noticeable differences in times after regular stretch classes. However, less discomfort experienced after training, less pain and soreness after competition and as a result they were able to maintain their training programs with out have to take time off the recover from back pain etc.

In addition, the retired triathlete (who was in a concrete like mess as a result of such intense training in this sports with no true stretch program) began to rapidly feel much more comfortable in his body, regained movement and has said to myself and many others, that if he had discovered this method of stretching WHILST he was in competition and training he would have been able to compete for longer.

I would therefore say that the proof is in the pudding and not the Statistics. I´ve never claimed to any athlete that I work with that this work will improve their times / performance but by addressing biomechanic issues and limited flexibility (where flexibility is needed) they will be more comfortable in their bodies while performing and pain associated with their sport will lessen as a result. My clients who are half marathon runners always send me their times when they are away on races. The times are consistent but what they always report is things like ' my knees did not hurt at all after´... ´I wasn´t laid up with lower back pain like I normally am´... etc etc

Also, the article makes no reference to type of stretching that has been studied. I´m not going to claim at all that stretching improves performance in triathletes (though I know in many cases of other sports it does), but surely if a body is performing with less pain, better biomechanics and recovering with less pain after races then surely this permits training to continue, less recovery time is needed to recover from pain. When this is the case training can resume more quickly and even more intensely. Would common sense then imply then that performance can improve if training can resume ??

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well said, to all.

From an anecdotal and first hand experience point of view, it's easy to dismiss the ridiculous claims the article refers to.

However, without an academic background, these types of 'arguments' can be difficult to, er, argue.

I completely agreee with the common sense approach, albeit how uncommon this seems to be.

I only up to week 5 in a beginners class and one of my students has just informed me (at the last class) she's an ex gymnast and is not only really enjoying the approach Kit is teaching but finding it quite challenging (in a positive way). This to me is where the proof lies in the pudding, the credibility from the students who are actually experiencing it.

I would still like to learn more about the physiological aspect, to deepen my own knowledge and understanding. Any ideas On where to find some credible articles/ info would be warmly welcomed.

Thanks for your input guys. Much appreciated and insightful discussion.

Holly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From an academic perspective this article was disappointing. While the author notes ‘several’ studies and makes very definitive statements they omit to make a single citation or description of the studies referred to. I think Kit’s comment regarding the type of stretching used is relevant, for example the comments in regard to pre exercise stretching are they referring to static or dynamic methods or both?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...