By Kristin Staub and Ellie Strang, Reporters
Athletic trainer Missy Johnson advises all her athletes to stretch before practice or a game.
“It’s a good idea. It helps with back pain and other muscles that are knotted, because now your muscles are flexible,” Johnson said.
She sees student athletes come in with injuries and strained muscles regularly.
“Most people who come in with muscle pulls didn’t stretch or warm up before,” Johnson said.
That’s exactly why nearly all coaches at Kaneland and schools nationwide have their players begin practices and games with a stretching routine.
That common wisdom is being challenged by a new study by European College of Sport Sciences that suggests stretching may not help as much as previously believed.
Within the past 25 years, 12 studies were completed that focused precisely on this issue. Each study had similar results. Out of the 2,377 people that participated, 32 percent of people who didn’t stretch reported soreness, while 25 percent of people who did stretch reported soreness as well.
Researchers have put static stretching to the test to see whether it was effective for athletes. The study showed that after athletes did a static stretch, they could not sprint as fast, jump as high, or swing a racquet or club as powerfully.
According to European College of Sport Sciences, static stretching can diminish an athletic performance, but only if poses are held for long periods of time, lasting longer than a minute.
Static stretching is not out of the question for some athletes, such as hockey goalies, gymnasts, cheerleaders and dancers, who are advised to stretch before workouts by David Behm, author of the European Journal Review of Stretching.
“When I stretch, I feel more ready to play. When I’m tight, I feel that I can get hurt easier and I perform slower,” junior Allyson O’Herron said. “It feels better.”
For sports such as track that contain more running, a more blood pumping warm-up is recommended, called a dynamic warm-up. A dynamic warm-up should do two things for an athlete: loosen muscles and tendons in order to increase the range of motion and literally warm up an athletes body.
Experts recommend that runners do warm-ups such as lunges, form drills and squats. The sports that require rapid movement such as basketball and soccer should do dynamic stretches that require moving many parts of the body.
“When I stretch out, I move around much better,” sophomore Lauren Zick said.