Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Stretching Debate

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Ly and I have had an on-going argument regarding stretching. He doesn’t like it and believes it’s a waste of time. A couple of years ago, he caught wind of a study mentioned on the radio, confirming his beliefs. I, on the other hand, maintained my beliefs that stretching helps prevent injury, since experts continued to support stretching even after two years that this (supposed )study was released, having me conclude that it was a dud. Therefore, seeing Ly blatantly refuse to stretch made me feel uncomfortable and I had difficulty overcoming the fear that he will someday injure himself beyond repair because of his neglect. Paranoia? I suppose, but that’s the way I was raised, so I would bring up the topic every now and then.

One night, as we were driving home from a late dinner party, Ly and I had a heated debate regarding whether stretching was a waste of time. It was frustrating because neither side had any hard evidence so the discussion was going nowhere. Finally, Ly proposed that we research it on the Internet. I totally did not want to do it. I was tired and I had better things to do, but seeing Ly struggle with finding academic literature on the Internet was irritating. So I showed him Google Scholar and I looked through the academic search engines that I still had student access to.

We discovered that we were BOTH stupid. It turns out that stretching only significantly prevents injury when the individual is unusually inflexible (like myself), so I was somewhat wrong. It also turns out that the study that Ly heard about on the radio only examined stretching BEFORE the workout, so Ly was also somewhat wrong. In the end, I’m glad that we researched it, because it ended the debate and I no longer have the urge to nag Ly about stretching.

Here was what we discovered about stretching:

> Stretch only after warming up or after a workout.

> Stretching can improve muscle force, jump height, running speed, and range of motion.

> Stretching can decrease muscle soreness.

> Stretching can help prevent injury for “inflexible” people, but if you are of average flexibility there is limited benefits in terms of injury prevention. If you are extra-flexible, strengthening the muscle around the joint, rather than stretching, can prevent injury.

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I fear no one’s opinion! I am knowledgeable, focused, and efficient. I make this priority and build from experience. I do this for my children and myself. Supported by love, I will persevere.