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Stretching may not help workouts

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MONTREAL, Sep 24, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Preparing for a workout or sports by acute stretching might do more harm than good, a Canadian doctor's review of research data has found.

A program of regular stretching, however, may improve some aspects of performance through increased muscle strength, according to a report in the September/October Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.

Dr. Ian Shrier of SMBD-Jewish General Hospital in Montreal examined 23 previous studies focusing on stretching just prior to various types of sport or exercise and found that the practice reduced performance in many cases, such as in muscle force, torque and jumping height.

Seven of nine studies found that regular stretching improved "running economy," Shrier found.

Stretching immediately before exercising is commonly recommended to reduce the risk of injury, but recent research has raised questions as to whether it helps at all.

Shrier's research suggests that regular stretching is more beneficial, while acute stretching does not seem to improve performance.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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