Stretching the right way can help minimize injuries.We Asked: Stephen Rice, M.D., is a sports medicine specialist at the Jersey Shore Sports Medicine Center in Neptune, N.J.
The Answer: You may have heard a lot of debate recently about whether stretching is good for your muscles or hurts performance, prevents injury or causes it, is a necessity or a no-no. Well, that's because the sports medicine community is intensely divided. Some say, "Do it! Every time!" while others question its benefits entirely. Here's what you should know to make the best decision for yourself and your goals.
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The longheld idea is that stretching should loosen your muscles so they're pliable and less likely to strain or tear. As your muscles contract and relax, molecules in the muscle fibers slide along one another. If muscles are too short, they won't glide as smoothly. Stretching helps fibers reach their maximum length and improves their ability to snap into action when the muscle is contracted.
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