A systematic review on the effect of stretching in sports injury prevention

26 Mar 2010

Introduction Although stretching increases soft tissue flexibility and joint range of motion, numerous studies demonstrated contradictory findings as to its effect in injury prevention. Aim The purpose of this systematic review is to assess the effectiveness of stretching on the prevention of injuries. Methods An electronic search using MEDLINE, SCIENCE DIRECT, COCHRANE, EBSCOHOST, SPORTDiscus and CINAHL databases, checking the references. Randomised control trials (RCTs) and cohort studies investigating stretching as an injury prevention measure published in the last decade were selected in this review. Methodological quality was assessed using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) tool. Results Two RCTs and two prospective cohort studies all of high quality were included in this analysis. One cohort study found that stretching reduced the incidence of exercise related injuries. Two RCTs and one cohort study found that stretching did not produce practical reduction on the occurrence of injuries. Conclusion Stretching exercises does not give a practical useful reduction in the risk of injuries. Not enough recent research has been done to draw definitive conclusion on the effect of stretching in injury prevention. Well designed studies are needed to shed light as to the effect of stretching in exercise-related injury risk reduction.