Stretching / stretching


Stretch, engl. Stretching is one of the most controversial topics in sports science. Previously promised miracle effects of a stretching program are no longer up to date, and recent research shows that stretching exercises can even have negative effects on sport. Nevertheless, many coaches, sports teachers, leisure, amateur and competitive athletes swear by stretching exercises before, during and after athletic performance.

  • Here you will find an overview of all stretching exercises


Stretching can contribute to a healthy lifestyle. It can release existing muscle tension, stretching shortened muscles and improves muscle tone. This leads to muscular imbalances avoided become and thus Prevents bad posture.

The stretching leads to a Metabolic activation and increases the blood flow to the muscles. After a workout, the muscles can regenerate better and faster. also minimized the Vulnerability to injury through healthy muscles and ligaments. The mobility of the entire body increases and the coordinative performance gets better.

Stretching is part of every training and competition as preparation and / or follow-up and offers many advantages.

Static stretching

Under static stretching exercises one understands the conventional stretch / Stretching.
The muscle is stretched for a certain time (usually 15-30 seconds) and this position is held for the period of time.
Static stretching immediately before the sport increases the joint range and is therefore particularly important in those types of sport in which a high degree of mobility (flexibility) determines performance.
These are e.g. Gymnastics, dancing and gymnastics.
In sports with fast, vigorous stress (sprinting, Strength training etc.) static stretching is not recommended. A specific warm-up program and dynamic stretching exercises (see below) should be carried out before training.
Static stretching should therefore not be used for strength, speed or Endurance trainingbut should be viewed as an isolated training unit (e.g. Monday: strength, Tuesday: endurance and Wednesday: stretching).
Even if stretching is not considered effective in the latest studies, one should not ignore the fact that the ability to stretch is one of the conditioning skills in addition to strength, speed and endurance.
If you still don't want to do without the stretching exercises before and after exercise, you shouldn't do so for psychological reasons.

Dynamic stretching / stretching

In contrast to the static stretching Dynamic stretching (also: intermittent stretching) does not lead to permanent stretching, but rather the muscle is continuously drawn in length and then loosened again.
However, this is not a jerky stretching, but a targeted, controlled, repeated movement. If the movement is performed in a springy or rocking manner, one speaks of ballistic stretching / Stretching
Dynamic stretching has often been criticized in the past, but when done correctly, positive effects can be achieved.
Dynamic stretching is mainly used for speed performance and in Weight training.

Benefits of dynamic stretching:
The inter- and intramuscular Coordination, i.e. the coordination of individual muscle groups to one another, are trained; the complex movements require a corresponding neuromuscular control, which is paved / practiced anew each time through the numerous repetitions of movements.
The local blood circulation is promoted.

Disadvantages of dynamic stretching:
The triggering of the stretch reflex (see below); If the length of the Musculature The contraction of the stretched muscle occurs, controlled by reflex. It is assumed that the theoretically possible end position of the joint is not even reached.
Since the extent of the reflex contraction depends heavily on the speed of stretching, fast movements should be avoided as far as possible (e.g. vigorous swinging).
Thus: risk of wrong implementation.

AC stretching / AC stretching

The AC stretching (A.ntagonist Contract) is based on the interaction of agonists and antagonists.
As an agonist and antagonist, opposing pairs such as Designated flexors and extensors.
Becomes a antagonistic muscle (E.g. Muscle biceps brachii) contracted maximally isometrically, the agonist / opponent automatically becomes, in this case the Triceps brachii muscle stretched.
AC stretching is used during static stretching to counteract the reflex muscle contraction (see below) of the stretched muscle.
So to speak, in every strength training, the antagonist of the working person becomes Musculature stretched at the same time.

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What happens during stretching / stretching exercises in the muscle?

Will the muscle stretched, there is an elongation of the muscle structure. At the beginning of the stretching one feels a high stretching tension, which, however, takes about 30 seconds. subsides.
That's why you should a maximum of 30-45 seconds hold this stretch.
The muscle has so-called muscle spindles.
These prevent the muscle from tearing when stretched too much. If the stretching is too strong (mostly dynamic stretching), this muscle spindle reacts and causes a contraction in the stretched muscle, which in turn shortens it.
This triggered contraction triggers a Hypertrophy effect (muscle building) and thus contradicts the goal of the stretching exercises. However, if the stretching stimulus is too strong, it can still Muscle injuries / Muscle tear coming.

What is warm up?

In the vernacular, stretching is often equated with warming up. When warming up, however, the body is brought to a so-called operating temperature. The muscles are better supplied with blood and prepared for higher loads.
The warm-up takes place through relaxed endurance exercises (running, cycling, etc.). The more muscles involved in the warm-up, the more effectively an injury is prevented.
In principle, a warm-up program should take place before each training session, regardless of the type.
After about 5-10 minutes with a heart rate of 125-135, the muscles are at the correct temperature.

When to stretch and when not?

Stretching exercises before exercise
Before exercising, be it a form of strength, speed or endurance, the muscles must first be warmed up before you can stretch.
For endurance exercise, you should trot gently for 10 minutes beforehand, and then expand the warming by doing specific stretching exercises for the leg muscles (see below). The stretching exercises should not take more than 5 to a maximum of 10 minutes.
Warming up is essential in speed training. A specific stretching program is not recommended, as this can result in a loss of performance.
Strength training is not that different from training speed. The only difference is that the muscle group to be trained should be warmed up locally. This is done by performing the movement with a very high number of repetitions (> 40) and minimal weight (10% of maximum performance).
The muscle is not only warmed up, but also coordinated for the training (e.g. free bench press on the flat bench).

Does stretching make sense?

Stretching exercises before or after exercise are not always beneficial.

Stretching exercises before sport are neither necessary nor performance-enhancing, but also not harmful in terms of the risk of injury. However, those who, out of habit or for psychological reasons, do not respond to the stretch If you want to do without sport, you shouldn't either.

Stretching after exercising
For a long time it was said stretch sore muscles after exercise (D.elayed Onset M.uscle S.oreness in short: DOMS) in front.
This statement is no longer appropriate. According to the latest research, stretching exercises are more likely to promote sore muscles than to prevent them.
Especially after strength and endurance exercises, it is advisable to prevent unwanted muscle soreness by means of targeted warming up (running out, loosening the muscles).
Active regeneration, such as Sauna, massages are very advisable after a workout. If you do not want to do without the stretching exercises after sport, you should make sure that there is at least 45 minutes break between the last sporting load and the stretching exercises.

Please also read: Stretching for sore muscles

When can and shouldn't you stretch?

If the physical exertion is particularly high and lactate accumulates, stretching is harmful.
When exposed to high levels of stress, byproducts accumulate in the muscles, which have to be removed again by the blood. Static stretching exercises worsen blood circulation in the muscles and increase the risk of sore muscles and muscle injuries.

Immediately before intense strength and speed performance, stretching exercises have the effect of reducing performance, as the desired tension in the muscles is missing. (up to 60 minutes after stretching)

Stretching in sports

Since the various sports with different loads and demands on the muscles in terms of strength and flexibility, there is no universal warm-up program.

In the wisest sense of the word, yoga can be viewed as a sport that consists of stretching exercises.


The myth of muscle shortening: Many footballers justify their immobility of the leg muscles with muscle shortening. In many cases this is not correct. If the muscles are not stretched or stretched only slightly, the muscle is not shortened. The length of the muscle always remains the same, but the mobility is different.

Before a soccer training session, there is no point in stretching as it does not require a large joint range. Stretching can even be harmful. If anything, only the leg muscles should be stretched with dynamic exercises. Loose warm-up / running-in would be more useful in this sport. Even after training, a relaxed warm-up / running out is more appropriate than stretching exercises.

You can also get more information under our topic:

  • Injury in football


Stretching is similar to soccer tennis not useful. However, a pre-workout warm-up is required. Since in this sport the stress on the joints (especially jumping and Knee joints) is very high, the running-in should be designed as variable as possible (sideways, hopping, heel, knee lever movement, ankle work).
Stretching exercises for the upper extremities should generally be avoided.

However: Regularly playing tennis restricts the flexibility of the striking arm or shoulder of the striking arm. This can be counteracted with stretching exercises for the shoulder, but not immediately before the sport. Sauna and massages after exercise are particularly suitable for regeneration.


Targeted stretching is in Handball not absolutely necessary, as this does not require a large joint range. The exception is the goalkeeper who, in addition to his ability to react, can use the advantages of defensive behavior through mobility of the lower extremities. However, since handball is exposed to very high levels of stress, it is essential to warm it up before you start playing. Especially the risk of overloading the shoulder at the Impact throw should be reduced by warming up.


For the correct swimming technique, special flexibility in the shoulder and hip area is necessary. Therefore, static stretching should be carried out over the long term in order to develop or maintain this flexibility. Even immediately before swimming, you can and should stretch your shoulder muscles after a gentle warm-up.

Squash / badminton

These sports involve very fast sprints and abrupt changes of direction. The demands on muscles, tendons and joints are therefore very high and must therefore be prepared for the strain. This should be done by dynamically stretching the leg muscles. Note: Always warm up before stretching.

Gymnastics and dance sports

In these and similar sports where flexibility plays a major role, stretching exercises are part of the training plan. Above all, before training and as an isolated training unit, the exercises to increase the joint range should be performed.
Hence plays Stretching also plays an important role here.

latest scientific findings

The topic of stretching is constantly being discussed anew and controversial, and research is still in its infancy. In order to be able to provide clear, factual information on this topic, examinations would have to be carried out on the exposed muscle. Sports science is pretty much in agreement at this point that the muscles are not stretched during the stretching exercises, but rather surrounding organic structures such as ligaments, tendons or cell tissue. The muscle is not stretchable. Electromyographic (EMG) Investigations have shown that tension changes occur when a muscle is stretched, and this sets a hypertrophic stimulus. As a result, stretching will build muscle.

Interesting example:

An athlete swings back and forth in the shoulder joint with his outstretched arm. It is to be expected that different states of tension will be measured in the arm flexors and arm extensors when swinging. However, this has not been the case in recent research. Either biceps, as well as Triceps showed no change in voltage.

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Stretching exercises for targeted stretching of different muscle groups are effective to that Extensibility of the limbs and the body too receive and to improve.

The first exercise deals with the hamstring muscles. The starting position is lying on your back with both hands on the thigh of your left leg. Now the knee is slowly extended until a certain pull can be felt on the rear thigh. This position is now up to Held for 30 seconds and then returned to the starting position. It should be noted that the Stable hip flexion angle and the leg not stretched straight remains. Per leg will do this exercise with 5 repetitions executed.

When stretching the Glutes When sitting, sit upright on a chair and place the foot of one leg over the thigh of the other leg. Now the straight upper body is bent forward over the legs and the crossed leg is pressed down. The spine always remains straight and the head in its extension. Just press down hard until you feel the tension on the muscle again. This position is up to Held for 30 seconds and then loosened up again and changed legs. Here too you can Five repetitions per leg occur.

Stretching the anterior thigh muscles requires a trained sense of balance, or trains this at the same time. Starting position is standing with both legs slightly bent. Now the foot of one leg is grasped with one hand behind the buttocks. Now pull your foot towards your buttocks so far that you can feel the pull. The holding period is also here 30 seconds, and the exercise will five times per leg carried out. One should remember one while performing the exercise Hollow back to avoid, the Stretched hips to let and the Leg axis stable to keep.

To the Chest muscles To stretch, stand on the floor on four feet with one arm stretched to one side. The upper body is now inclined towards the floor and opposite to the outstretched arm until it pulls slightly in the arm stretched to the side. This position Hold for 30 seconds and then return to the starting position. Of the head should always throughout the execution straight be held and the Hand stays on the ground lie.

An exercise for one Full body stretch begins lying down with legs up.One arm is placed up and out and the other arm grips the knee of the opposite leg next to the body. The knee is now actively pushed towards the floor until there is a pull. The position Hold for 30 seconds and then go to the starting position and that Switch legs and arms. The exercise Repeat five times per side, the lying leg stretched let and the Look in the direction of the arm outstretched upwards judge.