An Alternative to Stretching Before Workouts

Mj 618_348_stretching before a workout saps your strength
Tom Merton / Getty Images

Two studies published this spring add further evidence to the (once-controversial) idea that stretching before your workout won’t relieve muscle soreness and can even weaken performance. Researchers in Croatia reanalyzed over 100 strength and conditioning papers published between 1966 and 2010, and found that stretching reduces a muscle’s strength by almost 5.5 percent. People who held their stretches for more than 90 seconds lost the most strength, while those who held for under 45 seconds were impacted less. “We can now say for sure that static stretching alone is not…an appropriate form of warm-up,” study author Goran Markovic told the ‘New York Times.’ Adding to this, Stephen F. Austin State University researchers found that young, fit men who performed squats with barbells lifted 8.3 percent less weight if they stretched first. The bottom line? Instead of stretching before a workout, try warming the muscles with dynamic movements like leg swings, shoulder rolls, and arm circles.

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