Which Improves Flexibility More, Stretching or Strength Training?
In the 1970’s, sport coaches warned athletes to avoid weight training over the fear that lifting weights would make an athlete muscle bound and inflexible. Over the last five decades, the scientific research has debunked this myth and now strength training is included in the training and conditioning of athletes in literally every sport.
Authors of a recent meta-analysis (a statistical tool for reviewing all of the relevant research on a topic) that was published in the scientific journal Healthcare titled “Strength Training versus Stretching for Improving Range of Motion: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” examined the outcomes of eleven studies involving hundreds of participants. They attempted to answer this question: What is more effective for enhancing flexibility? Stretching or strength training.
The authors concluded, “Overall, ST (strength training) and stretching were not statistically different in ROM (range of motion) improvements, both in short-term interventions, and in longer-term protocols… Therefore, if ROM gains are a desirable outcome, both ST and stretching reveal promising effects… In addition, the studies included in this review showed that ST had a few advantages in relation to stretching.”
Take home message: If you want to enhance your flexibility, lifting weights is every bit as effective as a comprehensive stretching program.