Men's Life Today: Expert Q+A
Does stretching really help prevent athletic injuries?
Common sense says stretching should prepare the body for exertion and prevent injuries. But the evidence is inconclusive. Compared with Australian army recruits who didn’t stretch during training, those who did suffered the same rate of injury.
But among Pennsylvania high school football players, stretching prevented injuries. And even though stretching didn’t reduce injuries in Alabama firefighters, it reduced the severity. Total medical and absence costs were three times greater in the control group -- $235,131 vs. $85,372 among those who stretched.
Even if stretching doesn’t prevent injuries, it does improve range of motion -- which is why the Arthritis Foundation recommends it. And in one Indian study, three months of yoga one hour a day reduced men’s blood pressure, cholesterol and stress, resulting in “improvement in subjective well-being and quality of life.”
Finally, if you stretch in a yoga or Pilates class, women usually outnumber men, so you’ll be well-positioned to find a lady. Just don’t expect stretching to magically immunize you against all injuries. That would be a stretch.