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Sporting injuries - are you fit for the pitch?

Stretching before and after


© PA Photo/thinkstockphotos
© PA Photo/thinkstockphotos
Stretching before and after exercise is often thought to be an important way of preventing injury. However, research into stretching has found mixed results, and some consider it a waste of time.

Evans, however, says stretching is important, although it needs to be the right sort.

Dynamic stretching, where you warm up and stretch muscles at the same time, is useful as it's stretching on-the-go, and is based around the sport you're doing and the injuries you're most likely to get.

The other type of stretching is static, such as where you bend over and stretch the hamstrings from a fixed position.

"Static stretching is also important," says Evans, "but it's not as essential pre-games. It's more for an increase in range of movement for injury safety - for example, if you have very short hamstrings."

He says warming up is important, as is stretching after sport, which will reduce the DOMS effect (delayed onset of muscle soreness), and cooling down.

Sports physiotherapist Nichola Croft, clinical manager of the London Sports Medicine Centre, agrees that stretching is important, despite the mixed research views.

"I don't think there's enough evidence to say it's not worth doing," she says, "especially if there's an asymmetry - if you can feel that one side's tighter than the other".

She suggests that people stretch for 20-30 seconds twice on each side before exercising, to lengthen muscles, and do more stretching within the cool down period afterwards too.


Health and Fitness Editor
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