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Stretching before exercise may cause harm

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MONTREAL, Sep 28, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A Canadian study suggests acute stretching immediately before playing a sport or exercising may hinder, rather than improve, one's performance.

However, a program of regular stretching seems to improve many aspects of sport performance, according to lead researcher Dr. Ian Shrier of SMBD-Jewish General Hospital in Montreal.

Shrier's analysis included 23 studies evaluating the effects of "acute" stretching -- stretching immediately before the test -- and found stretching reduced performance on various tests, including muscle force, torque and jumping height.

He also identified nine studies on regular stretching programs. Seven studies found better performance with regular, non-acute stretching including tests of muscle force production and contraction velocity, suggesting the benefits resulted from muscle strengthening.

Shrier concluded in the study published in Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, "if one stretches, one should stretch after exercise, or at a time not related to exercise."

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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