Health Team

Orthopedic surgeon stresses stretching benefits

A George Washington University study found injury rates were the same regardless of whether runners stretched or not.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A local sports medicine expert warns that most people might regret it if they skip stretching before working out.

“Stretching has benefits for long-term prevention, for instance for low back pain, some chronic knee problems,” WakeMed Hospital orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jonathan Chappel said.

Chappel is the team doctor for the Carolina Railhawks.

Railhawk midfielder Kupono Low believes the stretching routine he's followed since he began playing the game has prevented injury.

“I'd say you're more likely to get injured in our sport if you're not agile or flexible,” Low said.

A George Washington University study found injury rates were the same regardless of whether runners in the study stretched or not.

Chappel said the results might have led some people to dismiss stretching, but the study only applied to those who run at least 10 miles a week.

“It doesn't take into account other types of athletes, such as football players, soccer players and basketball players,” Chappel said.

The study also doesn't take into account those most at risk of injury – those who are not regularly active and overweight.

“People who exercise less frequently, once or twice a week – mainly on weekends – really need to be cognizant of stretching before they work out,” Chappel said.

Chappel recommends people start their workout with a warm up like some light jogging, before stretching various muscle groups until feeling a slight pull.

Start out easy and try to achieve a little bit more when stretching next time, Chappel said.


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