Stretching before or after exercising doesn't do much good when it comes to alleviating muscle soreness after exercise, a new review by a team of Cochrane researchers has found. The researchers noted that people tend to stretch before and after exercising in a bid to prevent injury, to promote higher performance, or to limit the chances of feeling stiff in the days after working out.
However, based on an analysis of 10 studies that involved 10 to 30 people each, the researchers noted that stretching has little or no effect on muscle soreness between half a day and three days later. Nine of the studies had been carried out in laboratory situations and stretching varied from between 40 seconds and 10 minutes.
The researchers used a 100-point scale to assess stiffness after exercise. They concluded that the estimated effects of stretching were extremely small, with most estimates showing that stretching reduced soreness by less than 1 point on the 100-point scale. The size of the effect was similar if stretching was performed before or after activity.
"The data were remarkably consistent. The available evidence suggests that stretching before or after exercise does not prevent muscle soreness in young healthy adults," said lead researcher Robert Herbert from the School of Physiotherapy at the University of Sydney, Australia.