|Should you stretch when you exercise? It’s usually the first and last thing people do when they workout. But does it help prevent injury – or are we just wasting time? “There is no proof that stretching prevents exercise-related injury,” states Dr. Jack Choueka, Chair of Orthopedic Surgery. “While studies about the benefits of stretching are mixed, the act does improve flexibility – and that’s important.” Flexibility may improve athletic performance, and therefore decrease risk of injury.
“Flexibility helps your joints move within their full range of motion,” notes Dr. Choueka. For example, if you walk up a lot of stairs on your daily commute and have a tight tendon in your leg, which causes loss of flexibility, it may be difficult for your leg to move through its full range of motion. “Over time, this could increase your risk of tendinitis. However, stretching the tendon may improve the range of motion in your leg, thus decreasing the risk of trauma that could lead to injury,” he states.
While there is no absolute proof that stretching prevents injuries, Dr. Choueka notes that this doesn't mean people should stop stretching altogether. “There’s no harm in stretching, and people often feel better when they do. So if it’s become routine, my feeling is that it can only help.” Therefore, Dr. Choueka usually encourages his patients to do a few dynamic stretches before running and jogging.
Verdict: A little bit of both – While studies don’t prove that stretching absolutely prevents injuries, many specialists see the benefit of increasing flexibility. “For people who already have injuries and preexisting orthopedic problems, stretching can be helpful,” notes Dr. Choueka. “Their flexibility is already compromised and increasing their range of motion may help reduce pain and prevent further injury.”
|Dr. Jack Choueka
Chair, Orthopedic Surgery
Dr. Jack Choueka has published numerous articles on a variety of topics, including rotator cuff repair, flexor tendon repair, and new devices and techniques in orthopedic surgery. Dr. Choueka’s philosophy is to utilize any methods possible to avoid surgery for his patients. If surgery is necessary, microscopic procedures can be performed which allow patients to get their function back quicker.
To make an appointment, call: (718) 283-7362
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