Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Is Stretching The Biggest Time Waster In The Gym? Most Likely

September 9, 2020


Stretching remains one of the more debatable areas in our profession.  Although mobility and stretching can play a significant role in Physical Therapy treatments designed to help an individual recover from injury their importance in a healthy individual is questionable.  Despite this, stretching’s popularity remains on display in most gyms and exercise classes, but the evidence indicates it should hold a lesser value in our weekly workouts. 

Large reviews of the literature have not shown a significant benefit of stretching on either improved health and fitness outcomes or injury prevention in a healthy individual.  In addition, when comparing stretching to strength training through a full range of motion, randomized controlled trials have shown equivalent or greater mobility gains in the latter group.  In short, the desired effects of stretching, including greater range of motion, can be obtained in less time with strength training alone. 

Time remains the most significant barrier to many Americans’ workouts each week.  This finite resource should be protected during a workout to ensure time is allocated to the most impactful health and fitness activities above all others.  Time dedicated to stretching displaces time better spent on daily cardiovascular exercise and thrice weekly strength training sessions.  Unlike stretching, these activities have been shown to positively benefit both health and fitness outcomes, as well as, reducing an individual’s risk of future injury. 

We recommend using your gym and workout time wisely by choosing activities with the greatest benefits.  Time should be allocated to stretching only after weekly exercise standards for cardiovascular and strength training have been met.  Stretching should be considered in individuals who have additional time and report a greater perceived benefit from this form of exercise.

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