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Does Stretching Prevent Injury and Support Recovery?

stretching for recovery

We get it – Stretching isn’t the most glamorous part of working out. But most fitness experts push for daily stretching as a way to prep for the workout to follow, support your recovery, and reduce the risk of injury. Is all that necessary though? Do you have to stretch and foam roll to see improvements in your recovery and avoid potential injury from physical exercise? Let’s take a look at what the science says about stretching and foam rolling along with how you can boost recovery from a nutritional standpoint.

Benefits of Stretching and Foam Rolling

Here are some reasons why it’s important to incorporate stretching into your daily routine.

Get Ready for Your Workout:

Dynamic stretching is the go-to way to prepare for a workout. Dynamic stretching involves performing movements that closely resemble the exercises in your workout. For example, let’s say it’s leg day and you have barbell back squats on the list. One form of dynamic stretching would be bodyweight squats. Another great way to prep for your workout is with foam rolling. This practice helps to increase blood flow and alleviate tightness in muscles. Between stretching and foam rolling, you’ll increase your range of motion, ensuring you’re ready to tackle whatever is on the day’s agenda. [1][2]

Increase Your Range of Motion (ROM)

We touched on this above but stretching and foam rolling can greatly increase your range of motion. In fact, this is why most people do it. Moving the targeted muscle groups through a complete range of motion is essential to see the greatest level of benefit from the exercises you’re doing. This ensures that the target muscle is fully activated, and the recommended amount of tension is being placed upon it. If you have a short range of motion, you could be missing out on gains in strength and muscle. For example, if you have tight hips and glutes, your squat is going to suffer. In fact, you probably feel it more in your lower back than anywhere else. Stretching and foam rolling can help to alleviate this tightness, and make sure you’re flawlessly executing exercises.

Reduce Stiffness and Soreness

We’ve all had those days when we’re due at the gym but we’re still sore from the workout two days ago. Stretching and foam rolling can reduce that post-workout stiffness and muscle soreness, helping you to get through your workout without discomfort. Stretching and foam rolling boost blood flow, alleviate muscle tension and adhesions (knots), and increase range of motion – All of these things help to decrease inflammation and perceived soreness. On the same note, stretching and foam rolling can also act as a form of pain relief.

Does Stretching Prevent Injury?

This is one of the most debated topics in the fitness world. Studies have proven time and time again that stretching is helpful for warming up, increasing flexibility, and avoiding post-workout soreness, but what about preventing injuries?

Sports-focused studies overwhelming say that stretching does not prevent injury BUT there’s a huge catch here. These studies looked at the risk of injury when a single stretching session was performed immediately before training or a game. These sports studies do not look at long-term stretching and the rate of injury, which would tell a completely different story.

One major study looked at both forms of stretching: short-term (right before exercise) and long-term (consistent). The researchers found that stretching just before a game or training session does not make a difference in the athlete’s rate of injury; however, it makes an enormous difference for someone who makes stretching a consistent habit. Daily or consistent long-term stretchers had a clear reduced risk of injury during physical activity. [3]

Can Stretching and Foam Rolling Support Post-Workout Recovery?

Absolutely. Stretching and foam rolling can promote blood flow, helping to flush metabolic waste and lactic acid. Better blood flow also helps muscle building nutrients get to where they need to go. These pre- and post-workout activities can also reduce muscle soreness and increase your range of motion, ensuring you’re prepared for the next workout.

Is There a Way to Support Recovery with Nutrition?

Supplements can complement a well-balanced diet, giving your body the extra edge it needs to bounce back faster. In particular, collagen is one of the best ways to promote post-workout recovery. Collagen contains amino acids, the building blocks of muscle tissue, making it ideal for protein synthesis, growth hormone production, and overall muscle tissue repair.

To go one step beyond that, collagen is just as effective at helping connective tissue, or the tissue in your joints. Collagen has been shown in multiple studies to promote the healing process of connective tissue while alleviating or eliminating joint pain. [4]

Collagen is also a fantastic way to support women’s health. When combined with probiotics, collagen can support the all-too important gut microbiome fighting off the harmful bacteria that cause yeast infections and UTIs while improving skin health and immunity. [5]

What’s the Best Source of Collagen?

When it comes to collagen, quality matters. Unfortunately, not all collagen supplements are created equal. Most commercial collagen supplements are based on fish skin. If you want to see a real difference in your post-workout recovery, joint health, and pain reduction, it’s important to have your collagen sourced from the bones of bovine, chicken, and fish – This is where the good stuff is.

Thankfully, you don’t have to look far for that type of collagen. Allure Collagen provides you with almost eight grams of the highest quality collagen in the industry. It also contains vitamin C to help with collagen breakdown and absorption as well as hyaluronic acid, which promotes connective tissue development and skin health.

References

  1. Page P. Current concepts in muscle stretching for exercise and rehabilitation. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2012;7(1):109-119.
  2. Wiewelhove T, Döweling A, Schneider C, et al. A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Foam Rolling on Performance and Recovery. Front Physiol. 2019;10:376. Published 2019 Apr 9. doi:10.3389/fphys.2019.00376.
  3. Shrier I. When and whom to stretch? Gauging the benefits and drawbacks for individual patients. Phys Sportsmed. 2005 Mar;33(3):22-6. doi: 10.3810/psm.2005.03.61. PMID: 20086352..
  4. Khatri M, Naughton RJ, Clifford T, Harper LD, Corr L. The effects of collagen peptide supplementation on body composition, collagen synthesis, and recovery from joint injury and exercise: a systematic review. Amino Acids. 2021 Oct;53(10):1493-1506. doi: 10.1007/s00726-021-03072-x. Epub 2021 Sep 7. PMID: 34491424; PMCID: PMC8521576.
  5. Kovachev, S.M., Vatcheva-Dobrevska, R.S. Local Probiotic Therapy for Vaginal Candida albicans Infections. Probiotics & Antimicro. Prot. 7, 38–44 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12602-014-9176-0.
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