Stretching Reduces Post-Workout Soreness?
Written by Mitchell Robinson
This series focuses on a number of myths we often hear at Sycamore Health relating to physiotherapy and exercise. Our goal is not that you become discouraged from exercising, but rather that you train safely, effectively and often!
It’s commonly believed that stretching after doing resistance or cardiovascular training in the gym reduces your muscle soreness over the next couple days (called delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS). The theory seems to be that lactic acid is responsible for DOMS, and that stretching removes this lactic acid.
However, unfortunately there’s not much you can do to stop DOMS. We know that resistance training causes muscle fibre damage (called microtrauma), this microtrauma isn’t caused by lactic acid (3), and it’s not reduced by stretching (1).
Image 1. A biopsy of muscle samples prior to (A), two days after (B), and seven days after (C) heavy resistance training (2).
Look at that microtrauma in (B)!
Of course there are reasons to stretch (see here), however there’s no benefit of stretching after your workout to reduce DOMS. We don’t want you to be wasting your time in the gym! Physiotherapists are specialists in exercise and would love to help you take control of your health. We can even address any underlying or lingering injuries or pain you may have.
Next in this series: Resistance Training Myths Part 3 - Spot Reduction
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1. Buroker, K. C., & Schwane, J. A. (1989). Does Postexercise Static Stretching Alleviate Delayed Muscle Soreness? Phys Sportsmed, 17(6), 65-83. doi: 10.1080/00913847.1989.11709806
2. Hortobágyi, T., Dempsey, L., Fraser, D., Zheng, D., Hamilton, G., Lambert, J., & Dohm, L. (2000). Changes in muscle strength, muscle fibre size and myofibrillar gene expression after immobilization and retraining in humans. The Journal of Physiology, 524(Pt 1), 293–304. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7793.2000.00293.x
3. McGlynn, G. H., Laughlin, N. T., & Rowe, V. (1979). Effect of electromyographic feedback and static stretching on artificially induced muscle soreness. Am J Phys Med, 58(3), 139-148.