Struggling with aches and pains after a workout? Stretching may not be the answer.
A recent paper by researchers at the University of Sydney found that "stretching does not produce important reductions in muscle soreness in the days following exercise".
In one example cited by the study, the rates of reported muscle soreness in a sample of more than 2,000 people were similar regardless of whether the particpants completed a standard 15-minute programme of stretching or not.
About 32 per cent of those who didn't stretch reported sore muscles the day after a workout. About 25 per cent of those who had stretched reported the same.
Another study found that static stretching before or after endurance exercise reduced muscle soreness the next day by just half a point on a 100-point scale of discomfort.
"Our interpretation of the data is that, on average, stretching really does reduce soreness, but the reduction is tiny," researcher Robert Herbert told the New York Times.
"There is little evidence that stretching does anything important,but there is also little to be lost from doing it," said Herbert.
"If you like stretching, then do it. On the other hand, if you don't like stretching, or are always in a rush to exercise, you won't be missing out on much if you don't stretch."
- HERALD ONLINE