I often get asked by grapplers is stretching was ‘good for recovery’?
If you’re late to the party, I’ve previously talked about why mobility wins over flexibility and how a lot of grapplers go down a flexibility worm hole.
But outside of improving our athleticism or attributes – is stretching simply a good tool for recovery..?
Stretching for recovery is an interesting topic, any hardcore ‘yoga bois’ will profess its wonders, whereas others make no time whatsoever to stretch. So who’s right? What if I said:
Watching Netflix is better for your recovery than stretching?
Despite the commonly held belief that stretching helps recover your muscles most meaningful evidence shows us this is not the case.
We could go into the science of this but its Monday morning I’m not sure if you’ve had your coffee yet, so lets come at it a different way.
Lets start by looking at what is actually good for recovery.
Time and time again the two most important factors for adequate recovery are (Drum roll)
SLEEP & NUTRITION
Yup, thats it – these guys are probably responsible for 90% of your recovery. Getting a decent nights sleep, for most 8 hours + and having a well balanced diet will do wonders for your ability to recover from hard training.
For now though lets look at the other ‘10%’ and whether stretching has a place within it.
Something that contributes to your ability to recover from strenuous exercise is your ability to ‘relax’.
Now what is deemed as relaxing is pretty much personal to you. It could be playing Call of Duty, watching Netflix, going for a stroll, chilling with friends – you get the idea.
Having meaningful periods of dedicated relaxation will do wonders for your recovery. Now, if some stretching routines (Yoga for example) for you personally is relaxing then it could be a useful part of your relaxation routine…
However, understand this has nothing to do with the act of stretching, just the fact that you find it personally relaxing.
Stretching in itself actually is often quite demanding (especially if you hate it) and thus can actually add more fatigue to your body. More so there is evidence to suggest that particularly tough and rigorous stretching can actually impede adaptations from other areas of your training – strength training for example.
So should you stretch at all?
If you need/want to be more flexible then yes you should stretch, it will help you to increase your flexibility.
If you want to help yourself recover more quickly and efficiently then no, for the most part leave stretching alone and concentrate on sleep, nutrition and relaxation.
Hopefully this will help you plan your week more efficiently and put your time where you need it most to optimise your athleticism and recover effectively.