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A review of limited evidence that stretching does not prevent injury

Hart L. Effect of stretching on sport injury risk: a review. Clin J Sport Med. 2005 Mar;15(2):113–113. PubMed #15782063.
Tags: exercise, self-treatment, treatment

PainSci summary of Hart 2005?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focussed on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★★☆?4-star ratings are for bigger/better studies and reviews published in more prestigious journals, with only quibbles. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

This 2005 review found that the (admittedly limited) evidence “showed stretching had no effect in reducing injuries.” The evidence primarily concerned lower leg injuries, including “shin splints, tibial stress reaction, and sprains/strains.” Neither poor quality nor higher quality studies reported any injury prevention effect. Regardless of whether stretching was of individual muscles or entire groups, there was no reduction in injury rates.

original abstract

OBJECTIVE: Effect of Stretching on Sport Injury Risk: a Review To assess the evidence for the effectiveness of stretching for the prevention of injuries in sports.

DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE (1966 to September, 2002), Current Contents, Biomedical Collection, Dissertation Abstracts, the Cochrane Library, and SPORTDiscus were searched for articles in all languages using terms including stretching, flexibility, injury, epidemiology, and injury prevention. Reference lists were searched and experts contacted for further relevant studies.

STUDY SELECTION: Criteria for inclusion were randomized trials or cohort studies of interventions that included stretching compared with other interventions, with participants who were engaged in sporting or fitness activities. One author identified 361 articles reporting on flexibility, methods and effects of stretching, risk factors for injury, and injury prevention, of which 6 articles fulfilled the inclusion criteria for meta-analysis.

DATA EXTRACTION: Three independent reviewers blinded to the authors and institutions of the investigations assessed the methodologic quality of the studies (100-point scale) and reached consensus on disagreements. Details of study participants, interventions, and outcomes were extracted. Weighted pooled odds ratios were calculated for effects of interventions on an intention-to-treat basis.

MAIN RESULTS: Reduction in total injuries (shin splints, tibial stress reaction, sprains/strains, and lower-extremity and -limb injuries) with either stretching of specific leg-muscle groups or multiple muscle groups was not found in 5 controlled studies (odds ratio [OR] 0.93; 95% CI, 0.78 to 1.11). Reduction in injuries was not significantly greater for stretching of specific muscles (OR, 0.80; CI, 0.54-1.14) or multiple muscle groups (OR, 0.96; CI, 0.71-1.28). Combining the 3 ratings of methodologic quality, median scores were 29 to 60/100. After adjustment for confounders, low quality studies did not show a greater reduction in injuries with stretching (OR, 0.88; CI, 0.67-1.15) compared with high quality studies (OR, 0.97; CI, 0.77-1.22). Stretching to improve flexibility, adverse effects of stretching, and effects of warm up were not assessed by appropriate intervention studies.

CONCLUSION: Limited evidence showed stretching had no effect in reducing injuries.

related content

These four articles on cite Hart 2005 as a source:

This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog.