original abstract †Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
Flexibility refers to the intrinsic properties of body tissues that determine maximal joint range of motion without causing injury. For many years, flexibility has been classified by the American College of Sports Medicine as a major component of physical fitness. The notion flexibility is important for fitness has also led to the idea static stretching should be prescribed to improve flexibility. The current paper proposes flexibility be retired as a major component of physical fitness, and consequently, stretching be de-emphasized as a standard component of exercise prescriptions for most populations. First, I show flexibility has little predictive or concurrent validity with health and performance outcomes (e.g., mortality, falls, occupational performance) in apparently healthy individuals, particularly when viewed in light of the other major components of fitness (i.e., body composition, cardiovascular endurance, muscle endurance, muscle strength). Second, I explain that if flexibility requires improvement, this does not necessitate a prescription of stretching in most populations. Flexibility can be maintained or improved by exercise modalities that cause more robust health benefits than stretching (e.g., resistance training). Retirement of flexibility as a major component of physical fitness will simplify fitness batteries; save time and resources dedicated to flexibility instruction, measurement, and evaluation; and prevent erroneous conclusions about fitness status when interpreting flexibility scores. De-emphasis of stretching in exercise prescriptions will ensure stretching does not negatively impact other exercise and does not take away from time that could be allocated to training activities that have more robust health and performance benefits.
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. A few highlights:
- Relationships Between Sleep Quality and Pain-Related Factors for People with Chronic Low Back Pain: Tests of Reciprocal and Time of Day Effects. Gerhart 2017 Ann Behav Med.
- Modulation in the elastic properties of gastrocnemius muscle heads in individuals with plantar fasciitis and its relationship with pain. Zhou 2020 Sci Rep.
- Association Between Plantar Fasciitis and Isolated Gastrocnemius Tightness. Nakale 2018 Foot Ankle Int.
- No Added Benefit of Combining Dry Needling With Guideline-Based Physical Therapy When Managing Chronic Neck Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Stieven 2020 J Orthop Sports Phys Ther.
- Effectiveness of customised foot orthoses for Achilles tendinopathy: a randomised controlled trial. Munteanu 2015 Br J Sports Med.