To stretch or not stretch? Answer not so clear-cut, study finds

ORLANDO, Fla. – If you exercise regularly, you’ve probably heard mixed advice about whether you should stretch before a workout or after or even both. Now a new study shows the verdict on stretching may not be clear-cut.

International scientists had a group of elite athletes follow different warm-up routines before exercising. Some involved stretching, and others didn’t.

Results showed the athletes’ performances didn’t change at all -- whether they stretched or not. It also didn’t matter if they did static stretches, which require holding a stretch for about 30 seconds, or dynamic stretches, which involve staying in motion.

And while this study looked at performance, research isn’t exactly clear if stretching affects the risk of injuries either.

“To say that you need to stretch to prevent injuries, I don’t know if we have the data to support that claim yet,” Dr. Michael Seifert, UCF Health, explained to Ivanhoe.

So if you hate stretching, some scientists say it’s probably OK to skip it. But if you like it, then stretch away.

“If it makes people feel better and it’s low risk, I almost never recommend against it," Seifert said.

The researchers say stretching before a workout might actually have a psychological impact on performance, and they’d like to test that possible link in the future.

Also, this study included men who were elite athletes. The findings might not apply equally to other groups, like older adults.