There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding the value – or lack thereof – of muscle stretching to accelerate recovery after exercise. “Stretching clears out your lactic acid,” and other similar claims abound. Is any of this true? Sort of. First, it is important to understand the difference between stretching for recovery and stretching for remodeling.
During exercise, muscles are called upon to work. During this work, fuel is used up, waste products are created and muscle fiber structure is disrupted by multiple micro tears. Imagine a banquet, for comparison, during which the food is eaten, garbage is accumulated (napkins, chicken bones, etc.), and the table settings disrupted. Before the next banquet, the food needs to be restocked, the garbage cleared, and the tables reset.
For muscles, this process of resetting for the next event is called recovery. The muscle is returned to full function without soreness. This is not the process that leads to body change per se, but it is important for athletes who wish to compete at their highest level multiple times during a short period.
Excerpted from the Conversation