Since the moment I was a young kid playing childhood sports I was told you need to stretch for flexibility. Stretching it’s how you become flexibility they said. Well, new emerging studies are saying there is more to flexibility than just plain ole’ stretching. Most of us athletes know, flexibility is essential for….
- Improving your performance in the sports environment
- Decreasing your rate of injuries
- Helping your joints move through their entire range of motion
- Improving blood flow
- Allowing for efficient muscle movement
- Easing the ability to do everyday activities.
Those are all critically important for long term success in one’s athletic endeavors. Contrary to what many people may think, stretching is not the only way one can improve their flexibility.
A 2021 systematic review and meta-analysis found that “Strength training and stretching were not different in improving range of motion, regardless of the diversity of protocols and populations.” In other words, the belief that strength training makes you tight and stiff is false. You can obtain the same level of flexibility via strength training as you can with stretching. Also, strength training adds an additional benefit of reducing chronic injury risk.
In fact, stretching has been shown to decrease acute performance in running as seen in two studies that reported an inhibitory effect on running speed after an acute bout of static stretching (Nelson et al. 2005; Siatras et al. 2003).
Conclusion – Strength training is a critical aspect of improving flexibility. Don’t cut corners on strength training and believe that stretching is the magical key to flexibility.