I am sure you have heard many times that stretching before, and after your fitness program will prevent muscle soreness. Well, that might not necessarily be the case. Since stretching, and flexibility are one of the important components of an effective fitness program, it is something most fitness participants incorporate into their workouts.
A recent study at the University of Sydney, in Austratia, examined the relationship between stretching, and the reduction of muscle soreness.
The research team conducted 10 trials of between 10-30 individuals. All the individuals were young, and healthy.
What they found was stretching reduced muscle soreness by less than 1%. Since they felt this was not significant, they issued a statement saying streching exercises do not seem to alleviate muscle soreness.
Now before you decide to skip the streching, please understand it does serve other functions, mainly flexibility. Flexibility becomes very important for aging individuals in enabling the muscles to move across a full range of motion.
Therefore, do not cheat youself out of the flexibilty benefits of stretching.
It is always recommended to stretch a muscle when it is warm. Therefore, I always recommend stretching after your workouts not to prevent muscle soreness, but to improve flexibility. Most people enjoy stretching because it makes them feel good.
I would like to see a much bigger study done on the effects of streching, muscle soreness, and recovery. Until then, keep stretching for flexibility.