The Surprising Benefits of Stretching: Beyond Injury Prevention

The Surprising Benefits of Stretching: Beyond Injury Prevention

Stretching is one of the most important yet often overlooked aspects of physical health. We have all been told to stretch before and after sports or workouts, but most of us don’t know why. In the past, stretching was only recommended to prevent injury, but now we know that there are many more benefits to stretching than just injury prevention.

One of the main benefits of stretching is resetting muscle spindles. Muscle spindles are sensory receptors in the muscles that detect changes in muscle length and tension. When muscles are tight, muscle spindles can become too sensitive and cause them to contract too quickly, leading to pain and discomfort. Stretching can help to reset these muscle spindles and reduce muscle tension, leading to increased flexibility and range of motion.

Another benefit of stretching is increased circulation. When we stretch, we increase blood flow to the muscles, which can help to reduce soreness and inflammation and speed up recovery after workouts. Increased circulation can also help to deliver more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, improving overall muscle health and function.

Stretching can also help to improve recovery by reducing muscle soreness and stiffness. After a workout, our muscles can become tight and stiff, leading to discomfort and decreased range of motion. Stretching can help to alleviate these symptoms and improve recovery time, allowing us to get back to our workouts more quickly.

Perhaps one of the most important benefits of stretching is increased range of motion, which can potentially reduce the risk of injury. Tight muscles and joints can limit our ability to move properly, putting us at risk for injuries. Stretching can help to improve flexibility and range of motion, reducing the risk of injury and allowing us to move more efficiently.

As I’ve gotten older and continued my lifelong pursuit of movement and athletics, I’ve come to appreciate stretching for another purpose, removing resistance in my body. 

Our daily lives involve a lot of upright movement against gravity, which can lead to compressive, shearing, and rotational forces that can take a toll on our joints and tissues. Over time, these forces can accumulate and lead to discomfort and pain if not managed effectively. 

Stretching can help to remove this resistance, allowing our bodies to move more freely and efficiently.

Three of my favourite stretches that I do on a regular basis to help remove resistance and improve my overall physical health around my hips and spine are the Straddle, Pretzel and Cobra Stretches.

Straddle (Pancake) Stretch:

Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you in a V-shape. Slowly reach forward between your legs, keeping your legs spine and legs straight. Hold the stretch for 5-10 breaths.

Pretzel Stretch:

Lying on your side. Flex your top leg to 90 degrees and hold it with your bottom hand, while extending your bottom leg and grabbing your ankle with the top hand. Allow for your shoulders to open and fall to the floor. Hold the stretch for 5-10 breaths and repeat on the other side.

Prone Press-up (Cobra) Stretch:

Lying on your stomach with your hands placed at shoulder height. Contract the abdominal muscles and glutes to protect the spine, and press up allowing the back to arch into a comfortable position. 

3 stretches for lower body and spine courtesy of Concept of Movement Physiotherapy

Stretching is an essential part of physical health that can help to improve flexibility, range of motion, circulation, and recovery time, while potentially reducing the risk of injury. 

So the next time you’re tempted to skip your stretching routine, remember all the benefits that come with it and make it a priority in your fitness routine.For more information on how to apply mobility and stretching exercises into your rehabilitation and performance programming,check out the Advanced Movement Therapist Certification at  to take your practice to the next level.


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

The duration of a stretch can vary depending on the person, the muscle group being stretched, and the type of stretching being done. Generally, it’s recommended to hold a stretch for 15-30 seconds and repeat it a few times. However, for certain types of stretching, like static stretching, you may want to hold the stretch for longer, up to 60 seconds. 

Counting breaths is another way to teach your clients to hold a stretch for a given amount of time, especially  when using a specific rhythm of 3 seconds inhale, 1 second pause,  and 6 seconds exhale. Holding a stretch for a 3-6 breath count brings stretching time to between 30- 60 seconds with the added benefit of focused relaxed breathing and increased mindfulness. 

It’s important not to overdo it and listen to your body. If you feel pain or discomfort, ease off the stretch and listen to the body.

The best time to stretch is when your muscles are warm and pliable. This is typically after a workout or physical activity when your muscles are already warmed up. However, stretching can be done at any time of day. Some people prefer to stretch in the morning to help loosen up stiff muscles from sleeping, while others prefer to stretch before bed to help relax and unwind.

While stretching is often recommended for injury prevention, the evidence is mixed on its effectiveness. Some studies have shown that stretching can help reduce the risk of certain injuries, like muscle strains, while others have not found a significant correlation. However, stretching can help improve flexibility and range of motion, which can potentially reduce the risk of injury. Additionally, stretching can help identify areas of tightness or weakness, allowing you to address them before they become a problem.

About Tom Swales

Concept Of Movement Physiotherapy Barrie Tom Swales

Tom is a Physiotherapist and Strength Coach with a passion for human movement. He is the founder and creator of The AMT Method & The Advanced Movement Therapist (AMT) Certification, an education platform for PT’s that teaches advanced movement and exercise prescription to get to root cause quicker and solve patients’ pain. He is also the founder of COMPHYSIO+ Performance Wellness, has worked with professional athletes and consults for international and olympic sporting organizations on their rehabilitation and performance protocols.

With his numerous degrees and certifications in rehabilitation and high performance and his 20+ years of study and professional experience, he is highly sought after by not only elite athletes but the active person who thinks like an athlete. Tom’s work and ideas are at the forefront of fitness, conditioning, injury prevention and rehabilitation.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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