You finish a workout, you have a little stretch and then you go home. Great, right? But do you know why you stretched? In a series of articles, our physio (and resident weight lifting coach) Julian will look at the proposed benefits of stretching and what the evidence shows. 


First, we’ll look at stretching and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).  DOMS is the post-exercise soreness that can develop over 12-36 hours after a bout of exercise and last up to ten(!) days. It is believed to be caused by micro-trauma that occurs in muscles during exercise.

It is often believed that stretching after exercise can reduce post-exercise soreness. In a review of scientific studies (which is considered the highest level of evidence), the following conclusion was made: “…muscle stretching, whether conducted before, after, or before and after exercise, does not produce clinically important reductions in delayed-onset muscle soreness in healthy adults.” (1)

That does not mean that stretching does nothing for recovery from exercise, nor should it be discouraged. Stretching has a place in physical preparation for exercise and optimising body function and further articles will investigate this further.

If your primary focus is to minimise DOMS after a big training session, there is some evidence to support the following options: active recovery (continued low intensity physical activity), massage and cold-water immersion. There is no “cure” for DOMS, so prevention is the best treatment. Avoiding high intensity activity for which you are not accustomed to will minimise the likelihood of waking up in agony the next day. Gradually building your training intensity over time is the best way to minimise DOMS and injury risk.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts. Stretching can be a controversial topic.

Cheers, Julian.



(1) D Herbert, Robert & De Noronha, Marcos & Kamper, Steven. (2011). Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) 

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