How does stretching prevent injuries in people who work out?

If you work out, a good way to fend off injury is to stretch regularly, which develops flexibility. Stretching -- which may seem like a time-waster when you're rushing to get home or to work -- is a must for protecting against activity-related problems.

Often, we're so consumed with focusing on cardiovascular exercise or walking that we forget about the importance of flexibility. Developing flexibility is as important or more so than exercise itself because having adequate flexible muscles can help to reduce one’s risk of injury.

Although, in general, women are more flexible than men, women lose some of that flexibility as they age. Add in an exercise routine focused on one type of movement, little or no stretching and unhealthful shoe choices (prolonged wearing of high heels shortens calf muscles and flip-flops promote flat feet, for example) and you put yourself at risk for leg pain, arthritic problems and more.

If you have concerns about how to stretch safely, consult with a physical therapist to develop an individualized stretching program.

Yes, having the appropriate levels of flexibility allows the body to move properly, reducing the overall chance of being injured.If the body is moving properly,there is less stress placed on it during exercise leading to a lesser chance of being injured.

Yes. An individualized Corrective Ex program can help prevent injuries that can occur from working out. Utilizing SMR with a high-density foam roller can provide trigger-point like pressure to overactive or tight muscles to improve overall flexibility and performance. Static, active and dynamic stretching is beneficial as well. I hope this helps and have fun.
Brian Yee
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Stretching of the proper muscles that are shortened or are in tonic spasm may help restore proper muscle balance. Stretching of muscles that are lengthened or around joints that are hypermobile should be limited. Please consult with a Physical Therapist or other qualified health practitioner that can assess your proper muscle length/balance of your body - as each individual is different.
Darin Padua
Sports Medicine
Regular stretching is critical to maintaining normal joint motion, especially in those who are physically active. During physical activity the muscles are constantly contracting and are prone to developing excessive tightness. 
Muscle groups that are especially prone to developing tightness are the:
  1. calves
  2. hamstrings
  3. hip flexors
  4. hip adductors (groin region)
So it is especially important to regularly stretch these muscles before and especially after physical activity to minimize the risk of developing excessive muscle tightness.
The combination of 30-60 seconds of self-myofascial release followed by at least 30-seconds of static stretching is an excellent method to maintain and increase flexibility.
Without proper flexibility in these muscles you may develop compensatory movement patterns, such as:
  1. knees collapsing inward when squatting or landing
  2. heels lift off of ground or toes rotating outward when squatting or landing
  3. greater lumbar spine motion
These compensatory movement patterns may lead to increased stress on the surrounding soft tissues and ultimately lead to decreased performance and possibly pain. So be sure to address muscle tightness by incorporating these flexibility techniques (self-myofascial release and static stretching) before and after you exercise.

Stretching can definitely help in the prevention of injuries. Expanding your muscle fibers increases your flexibility and muscles that are fluid and pliable are less prone to injury. Stretching will also help build strength.

Muscle fibers have a certain length to them. “Cold” muscles don’t stretch as far as “warm” muscles. Stretching after a light warm-up helps to loosen/lengthen the muscles. Any vigorous activity that forces a muscle to near-max performance has a greater chance of tearing or injury if the muscle is cold and hasn’t been stretched.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.