This post is an email from Paul Ingraham of PainScience.com
Bad stretching take from a good doctor.
A doctor I respect (and won’t publicly shame) fielded a question about stretching on her podcast… and just butchered the answer with an overconfident regurgitation of stale fitness and physio tropes dressed up as sensible medical advice.
All the doctor’s mistakes derived from the One Stretching Myth to Rule Them All: the notion that flexibility is a pillar of fitness, and stretching is the best path to it. This is especially wrong (on a huge scale) for runners.
I really do like this doctor and trust her views on other medical topics. And yet, despite her ignorance of flexibility physiology — and likely much else about musculoskeletal medicine, a common limitation — she chose to talk it up anyway. That is surprisingly easy to do when you have no idea what you don’t know! Anyone can screw up like this. The easiest way to avoid it? Stay in your lane! Stick to what you do know, as best you can.
The bottom line about stretching is that it feels nice, and it will make you more flexible… but flexibility is highly overrated as a goal of fitness or therapy. The case for this is made in great detail in my (free) stretch-debunking book — to which I recently added a bunch of images, breaking up “text walls” to boost readability. See Quite a Stretch: Stretching science has shown that this extremely popular form of exercise has almost no measurable benefits.
Warm Regards, Paul Ingraham