Whilst we are all aware that stretching can improve range of movement and improve posture did you also know that it can improve strength? 

A study conducted by Arnold Nelson, an associate professor of kinesiology at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge found that a regular stretching program may actually enhance performance, making people stronger and increasing their endurance. “Stretching appears to do more than just increase range of motion,” says study author Arnold Nelson, an associate professor of kinesiology at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. “The extent that some people improved was surprising,” he says. “Some people had fantastic improvements.”

Nelson says stretching won’t take the place of aerobic and strength-training programs, but it may supplement them. And stretching is a smart idea for people who are traveling and don’t have a good place to work out, he says. He also says stretching may especially benefit people who need exercise the most but are too weak to lift weights or get moving. “It’s a catch-22,” he says, but stretching can be a good place for them to start on a path to wellness.

Nelson believes stretching affects muscles in a similar way as strength-training but on a smaller scale. “We suspect it’s activating some of the same things in the cell that exercise activates,” he says.

Exercise physiologist Michael Bracko, a spokesperson for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), says the findings offer some good news about stretching, which also can help keep people flexible, improve posture and possibly allow them to avoid some injuries and other aches and pains.

Participants in the study stretched for 40 minutes three times a week.

Nelson says the study was designed specifically to include a lot of stretching to see whether there was an effect. He says it’s likely that lesser amounts of stretching offer strength benefits, too, but that hasn’t been researched.