In my book The Slow Burn Fitness Revolution, I discuss the non-need for stretching before or after your workouts and explain how useless it is for just about anything.
Some new studies have emerged confirming this to be true, and also suggest stretching can be harmful, especially to athletes involved in sports that require power and quickness. For the athlete, it's akin to having loose shocks and springs in your sports car.
Gretchen Reynolds, a fitness writer for the NY Times, had this to say in her article:
One, a study being published this month in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, concluded that if you stretch before you lift weights, you may find yourself feeling weaker and wobblier than you expect during your workout. Those findings join those of another new study from Croatia, a bogglingly comprehensive re-analysis of data from earlier experiments that was published in The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. Together, the studies augment a growing scientific consensus that pre-exercise stretching is generally unnecessary and likely counterproductive.
Now I know a lot of people like to stretch. They say it feels good, relaxes them, gives them a rush, whatever. Far be it from me to tell someone that they should not do what they enjoy.
But knowing the facts about stretching (as well as many other fitness fibs) can save you precious time and can keep you out of harms way.
No - Pilates will not give you the long, lean muscles of a dancer. Yoga will not improve the elastic properties of your limbs. Stretching will not make you a better athlete and might indeed lead you to injury.
Many trainers will stretch their clients before and after a workout. The trainer means well, but it is an unwise and time-wasting practice. That time is better spent hitting the weights (slowly and carefully of course) to build strength and lean tissue (bone, muscle, etc.).
To stretch or not to stretch is no longer the question!