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Should We Stretch Before An Event?

The topic of to stretch or not before a sporting event has been a widely (and passionately) discussed topic between

  • sportspeople and athletes
  • sports science experts
  • PE teachers and instructors

Some are hardcore pro-stretch before events.

Some say doing so causes more risk and harm than any benefits touted.

Should we even stretch and/or warm up? How even to warm up?

first point: Always warm-up

This is a non-negotiable must do.

Warming up helps to prepare your muscles and joints for muscle and joint activity that is coming, as well as preparing the lungs too for the event. If one doesn't warm up, our muscles and joints are at higher risk to injuries such as hamstring tears in runners/sprinters.

ok, stretching isn't warm up

It's an unfortunate misconception, but stretching isn't really warm up.

Yes, stretching may help with a little of "warming up", but it's not the best way of warming up for a sporting/activity event. In fact, you can engage in warm up activities to increase body temperature even without stretching, by doing gentle cardio movements such as:

  • on-spot gentle jogging (normal and/or high-knee)
  • slow jogging
  • skipping forwards, sideways and backwards

The heated controversy on stretching before a sports event

Individuals and experts who passionately against stretching before a sports event advise so based on two main reasons:

  1. Stretching causes loose joint = more risk of injury for sports and activities
  2. Stretching causes loose muscles = less ability for muscles to contract well for movement, power

Yet on the flip side, those we say encourage stretching is saying that the above 2 points aren't conclusively proven.

what's the conclusion? stretch or not before a sporting event?

Unfortunately and frankly, there is no real and fixed conclusion yet.

The challenge is that everyone's body is different and reacts differently to sports, stretches and warm ups - it's too general to conclude. You have to test for yourself and determine what works best for you, be it stretch before an event, or not.

If stretching before an event seems to work for you, do it; if not, don't.