Stretching limits

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Freshmen Lucy Alderson-Smith and Elizabeth Considine stretch before lacrosse practice. courtesy of Maddie Caponiti ’15

Freshman Elizabeth Considine and Lucy Alderson-Smith stretch before lacrosse practice. courtesy of Maddie Caponiti '15
Freshman Elizabeth Considine and Lucy Alderson-Smith stretch before lacrosse practice.
courtesy of Maddie Caponiti ’15

Athletes at Convent of the Sacred Heart are all encouraged to stretch before and after physical activity. However, recent studies have shown that this practice is no longer recommended by all.
According to recent discoveries reported in numerous medical journals including The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine, stretching can actually lower a runner’s sprint time and lessen a jumper’s jumping height. Also, it is not truly reducing the chance of injury.
It is not yet fully understood why stretching decreases an athlete’s ability. Studies show that although stretching loosens both muscles and tendons, it also prevents them from storing energy and springing into action. This came as a shock to many Convent of the Sacred Heart students, who have been told for years about the benefits of stretching.
“I had no idea that stretching could be bad for you,” sophomore Ailish Cunniffe said. “I have always heard that you have to do it before you run or do anything active.”
According to The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, if someone stretches before lifting weights, she is more likely to feel weaker and unbalanced throughout her workout. During a recent experiment, a group of fit men were brought together into a weight room. Those who stretched beforehand lifted 8.3 percent less weight than those who did not.
“Honestly, I am surprised because coaches have always told me I have to stretch,” sophomore Emily Sabia said. “I might try this new technique.”
These studies, in addition to numerous other medical journal reports, agree that stretching before exercise is needless and counterproductive. A more reasonable warm-up would consist of jumping jacks or high kicks. These exercises prepare muscles for exercise better than stretching.
“Our lacrosse team does dynamic stretching,” sophomore Meg Gerli said. “So, I am happy to hear that this is the best thing for athletes.”
– Kim Smith, Staff Writer