Alright, I made the last one up, but the other ones are pretty common. A new article just came out in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. It was a meta-analysis reviewing 104 studies to see whether or not stretching before exercise was detrimental to performance. Here’s what the literature says.
Here are some other things to keep in mind that are not from this paper:
So here are my recommendations based on this paper and from experience
If you are an athlete with excellent flexibility you might be able to get away with no static stretching before training and go right into a dynamic warm-up. I honestly don’t see too many athletes who are flexible enough to avoid stretching. If flexibility is holding you back from achieving solid technique on a given exercise then stretch as much as you can before attempting that exercise. If you can’t squat properly then the last thing you need to worry about is a 5% decrease in maximum quadriceps strength from stretching for too long.
I still recommend static stretching before a training session because if it isn’t taken care of before the session starts there’s about an ice cube’s chance in hell that the athlete is going to stretch after a tough workout. That being said, if you’re motivated enough the best thing to do is to keep your static stretching sessions separate from your strength training sessions or after your strength sessions.
I always do static stretching before training and can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever missed a max lift because I stretched too much beforehand. (I knew I shouldn’t have stretched my glutes for 30 seconds before I started my dynamic warmup!) I usually blame it on a lack of sleep/proper nutrition, too much stress or poor programming.
Keep in mind this article is directed toward the athlete and if max performance is not your goal then go ahead and stretch until your heart is content.
Simic L, Sarabon N, & Markovic G (2012). Does pre-exercise static stretching inhibit maximal muscular performance? A meta-analytical review. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports PMID: 22316148
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