Intended for healthcare professionals


Reducing risk of injury due to exercise

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 31 August 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:451

Stretching before exercise does not help

  1. Domhnall MacAuley, general practitioner (,
  2. Thomas M Best, assistant professor of family medicine and orthopaedic surgery (
  1. Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, The Queen's University of Belfast BT12 6BJ
  2. University of Wisconsin Medical School, 1300 University Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin, WI 53706, USA

    Papers p 468

    It used to be so simple. Prevention of musculoskeletal injury during exercise meant conditioning, warm up, and stretching. We could not argue with these basic principles—until we began to look for the evidence to support such advice. Stretching is long established as one of the fundamental principles in athletic care. No competition is complete without countless athletes throwing shapes along the trackside, trainers and coaches each favouring their own particular exercises, and locker room experts, kinesiologists, and self appointed specialists inventing new contortions for long forgotten muscle groups. Sport is rife with pseudoscience, and it is difficult to disentangle the evangelical enthusiasm of the locker room from research evidence. But in this issue, Herbert and Gabriel (see p 468) question conventional wisdom and conclude that stretching before exercising does not reduce the risk of injury or muscle soreness.1

    They are not the first group to examine the evidence behind stretching and injury …

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