To stretch or not to stretch
That is the question the University of Sydney in conjunction with the Norwegian Knowledge Centre for Health Services is trying to answer. A clinical trial is underway to investigate the value of stretching before and after exercise.
The debate on how beneficial stretching is to preventing soreness and injury has a long history. Many studies have used small participant groups, or used army recruits for short-term exercise studies. This clinical trial will use a global population of 1500 people who are recreational exercisers to help determine whether stretching is advantageous or not.
CAPA has two members participating in this study. Both have Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) with varying severity. Marcel is part of the do not stretch group while Susan has been told to stretch before exercising. Here are their stories.
Twenty years ago I was proudly part of a karate group. I trained with the group three times a week, and alone twice a week. This amounted to 10 to 15 hours a week. Consequently, in my youth I was in great physical shape. Nowadays, with my AS unrelenting for years, my body is not what it once was. I read about the stretching research study and hoped to register but I wondered: Should I register? Will I be motivated to exercise for 13 weeks? Will I be patient enough to answer questions during the 13-week study duration?
It’s been two-weeks since I’ve registered and it seems to me that I’m more serious about my exercises and the reasons that brought me into the study. Not that I wasn’t serious before, but the realization wasn’t there. Now I have a goal, and I’ll give this study all the seriousness and dedication it requires because my experiences will be counted and the results will have real meaning for my/our future.
When I saw the recruitment notice for the stretching trial, I thought here is the excuse I need to really try and incorporate exercise and stretching into my daily life.
Like Marcel, I have had AS for years with its resulting physical toll. Also like Marcel, I used to be very active in swimming and skiing. As a teenager I almost lived in the pool swimming seven hours a week or more. I also learned to ski and travelled widely just before my AS started its rampage through my joints.
Being asked to exercise and stretch is an opportunity to provide valuable information to the study, prove something to myself, and hopefully to gain back some of the control over my body the AS has taken away. I’m committed.
The trial is in its second week of documentation. Stay tuned for our progress over the coming weeks.