August 21, 2023

Effects of Stretching

Several studies show that static stretching does not change the ability of the muscle to lengthen rather it increases what is referred to as a stretch reserve. It is thought that more exposure to static stretching makes people feel the stretch less and are more likely to push into the stretch!

Stretch reserve is the tolerance to stretch sensation

Depending on the amount of stretch, the person may cross over into what is called the plastic zone where you pull on the connective tissue and create physical changes in the connective tissue. Think of it as pulling on a plastic bag where it stretches but doesn’t come back together – this could be bad because these changes can be permanent.

Exposure to static stretching can reduce pain –

  • Several studies have shown that while stretching doesn’t change the extensibility of the muscles people do report reduced pain
  • May be due to people getting use to the stretch/pain/discomfort sensation changing pain perception

Stretching doesn’t seem to reduce instances of injury –

  • Several studies have not shown any decrease in potential for injury following stretching routine

Stretching reduces muscle power output and endurance –

  • Studies have shown that strengthening exercises tend to suffer when performed after stretching routine
  • Also show that people have reduced vertical jump when performed following stretching\

Stretching is useful following muscle strains –

  • Studies have shown that stretching can help a person recover from muscle strains/pulls comparative to non stretching


Take home points:

Stretching is not bad but needs to be re-evaluated if it is something that will help a person’s current state


Stretching doesn’t change the muscle length but the pull on the connective tissue can reduce the stretch sensation contributing to what is perceived as improve range of motion


It can help reduce pain and more quickly get people feeling better following a muscle strain/pull 


It can reduce muscle strength and power output possibly reducing the effectiveness of resistance training/workout