Why stretching is (still) important for weight loss and exercise | Health

There appears to be lots of confusion relating to the worth – or lack thereof – of muscle stretching to speed up restoration after exercise. “Stretching clears out your lactic acid,” and different comparable claims abound. Is any of this true?

First, it is important to know the distinction between stretching for restoration and stretching for transforming.


During exercise, muscle tissue are referred to as upon to work. During this work, gasoline is used up, waste merchandise are created and muscle fiber construction is disrupted by a number of micro tears. Imagine a banquet, for comparability, throughout which the food is eaten, rubbish is accrued (napkins, hen bones, and so on.), and the desk settings disrupted. Before the subsequent banquet, the food must be restocked, the rubbish cleared, and the tables reset.

For muscle tissue, this means of resetting for the subsequent occasion is referred to as restoration. The muscle is returned to full function with out soreness.

This is not the method that results in physique change per se, however it is important for athletes who want to compete at their highest degree a number of occasions throughout a brief interval.

Athletes have tried many issues to hurry up restoration: cryotherapy, therapeutic massage, compression, ice water immersion, stretching, hyperbaric oxygen, anti-inflammatories and electromyostimulation, simply to call a couple of. These interventions are aimed toward reducing lactic acid, inflammatory markers and different molecules that construct up following intense exercise.

Of these, solely therapeutic massage is persistently efficient. Multiple research have proven that stretching doesn’t assist considerably in waste removal or serve in any capability to speed up muscle restoration.


Most of us aren’t training for skilled competitions, although, however are exercising to be healthy, lose weight and enhance our moods.

For that, we have to give attention to our physique’s remodeling response to exercise, which is not the identical as restoration from exercise.

Plainly stated, once we exercise persistently, our our bodies adapt to that stressor by altering our muscle construction, metabolism and physiology. It is that change, that transforming, that results in all of the constructive advantages of exercise. To keep on with our banquet instance, if we realized that 500 individuals are going to point out up at each occasion, however we solely have 10 tables set at current, we might change our capability to be prepared for the subsequent occasion. We would improve the effectivity within the kitchen and set extra tables. Likewise, our physique remodels itself to adapt to growing exercise.

Many research even have been carried out to find out learn how to optimize the physique’s transforming response to exercise. After 35-plus years of study, six variables emerge as persistently aiding the physique in its effort to reorganize in response to exercise: timing of dietary consumption (particularly protein), sort of exercise, therapeutic massage, sleep, low-dose creatine and – you guessed it – stretching.

Perhaps probably the most well-known and accepted advantages of muscle stretching exercises are improved or maintained vary of movement, or each; alignment of bones and joints; and strengthening of connective tissues – all parts that optimize efficiency. Many research have proven that flexibility training (devoted consideration over time to muscle stretching as a part of an exercise program) immediately improves muscle perform, and ultrasound photographs have documented favorable alterations in muscle structure following weeks of normal stretching, comparable to longer fibers. What’s extra, a current research has clearly proven that stretching over time improves blood move to the muscle tissue throughout subsequent exercise in animals.

Prior adverse commentary round muscle stretching could also be deceptive to the informal observer. It is true that research have proven static stretching routines (attain, maintain for 30 seconds, launch, subsequent stretch) previous to a exercise or competitors result in decreases in power throughout that occasion, and that stretching earlier than exercise doesn’t forestall accidents, as was lengthy thought. But these are very particular circumstances that don’t apply to most individuals.

So do I stretch or not?

If you’re an elite athlete making an attempt to lower damage, improve power or speed up muscle restoration proper earlier than your subsequent occasion – then no.

The ConversationIf you’re most individuals, exercising to lose weight, be properly and enhance temper – then sure. It will assist with muscle transforming, connective tissue strengthening, range-of-motion enchancment, joint alignment and probably blood stream throughout subsequent exercise – all useful results in the long term.

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