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How does stretching after exercise prevent muscle pain?

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Yes. Yes it will. 

Have you ever taken an empty hot coffee pot and rinsed it in cold water, only for the darn thing to crack or break? 

That’s kind of like what happens with your muscles after a hard workout, if you don’t stretch. 

Obviously the analogy isn’t as severe. 

Stretching prevents not just soreness, but injury. And if you do it post workout. 

It’s like slowly cooling down your muscles, and helping them maintain their length and flexibility. Your muscles want to contract and shrink after a workout. If you don’t stretch you’ll be mighty stiff.

Hello! 

Stretching is important before and even after exercises. Normally, when you exercise, lactic acid is produced in your body which causes fatigue and muscle sores. Stretching relaxes the muscles by allowing better blood circulation at a more regulated pace. This is how stretching after exercise prevents muscle pain.

Stretching after exercise doesn’t not prevent muscle pain: 

Exercise folklore on recovery-adaptation often encourages stretching following exercise with little or no justification. […] 

Stretching before or after exercise did not improve DOMS according to a study by Wessel and Wan. Interestingly, contrary to popular belief, stretching decreases blood flow. Blood flow, capillary region oxygenation, and velocity of red blood cells have been shown to decrease during stretching by several investigators. If a goal of recovery-adaptation modalities is to increase blood flow, it would appear that stretching after a workout does not help and may actually discourage blood flow. Although it may sound like heresy, serious stretching after workout is contraindicated for recovery. […] 

In short, avoid serious stretching after training and use a mild exercise to cool down.

Yes it may be helpful. The main reason behind stretching after workout is that when someone workout, more than 60% of blood is pooled in veins. So to bring this blood back to circulation one has to do stretching after workout as it is very important to do after workout as it will help to speed up recovery and also brings your body temperature to normal.

It might. 

But mostly, I’d say no since my own dog never stretches. 

What animals are doing is rebooting and refreshing the brain, nervous system and muscles/fascia. Or movement system if you will. 

When we feel negative signals, it is generated by the brain (or so we believe at this point). So the key is to reset the brain so the muscles can get back to neutral or comfortable tension levels.