UPDATE Stretching vs. Non-Stretching
Confusion arises when a study shows that ranges of motion or flexibility improve with stretching. This has been shown by some studies. However, increased range of motion at what cost? These studies don’t address this important question. One problem caused by stretching is that muscles become too loose—weaker—allowing the associated joint to move in a wider range of motion. This increased range of motion/flexibility puts more stress on the joint, which is no longer supported properly by the muscle, increasing the risk of injury.
Damaging a muscle through any means, including stretching, will obviously have an adverse affect on an athlete’s gait. The loss of smooth efficient movement puts stress on virtually all other structures—ligaments, tendons, joints and bones, in addition to many muscles. The body tries to compensate for this irregular movement, and in doing so uses up more energy, taking away from ones performance. A recent study by Jacob Wilson and colleagues from Florida State University showed how stretching can result in poor running economy, increasing energy consumption during an endurance event, and decreasing performance.