By Lara Evans Bracciante
Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, February/March 2005.
Stretching a strained muscle speeds recovery and gets athletes back in the game, Greek researchers recently concluded. Eighty subjects suffering from pulled hamstrings were assigned to one of two groups: The first group was assigned to stretch the hamstring four times daily, while the second group stretched once a day. The first group regained full range of motion in an average of 5.6 days while it took the control group 7.3 days to reach the same result. The first group also resumed full activity about two days earlier than those who only stretched once a day.
Researchers note that in the first 48 hours after the injury, the muscle should be rested, elevated, and iced for 10 to 20 minutes every hour. On day three, begin to stretch gently to the point of a slight pull, but not to the point of pain.