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Does stretching after exercise actually aid recovery?



Most athletes post-exercise do some form of stretching to aid their recovery. I certainly understand that if I do not stretch after exercise the next morning I will suffer largely with sore and stiff muscles the next morning.


Stretching is proven to reduce muscle soreness as well as muscle stiffness. But how does stretching aid our recovery?


There are 2 main forms of stretching: dynamic (which can be active or passive). For example, an active dynamic stretch would be slow and controlled leg swings. A passive example of dynamic stretching would be bringing your leg up to your chest with help from a partner. Another type of stretch is static stretching. For example a shoulder stretch.


In many studies on post-exercise stretching muscle soreness seems to be relieved. Therefore, stretching after exercise does help to alleviate muscle soreness and is effective for recovery.


Furthermore, the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS) helps to slow down heart rate after excercise. This is linked to aiding recovery after excercise. Static stretching has been shown to increase short-term and long-term PSNS modulation so the body can recover faster.


From these studies we can see that stretching aids recovery from exercise and reduces muscle soreness and stiffness.


Here is a video of some stretched you could try after excercise.


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