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There appears to be a conflict of ideas in two of the leaders in the October issue of the journal. Reid and McNair1 state on page 322 that “it is important for rowers to include hamstring stretches in their training programmes”, their argument being that stiffness of the hamstrings would prevent pelvic rotation and increase the likelihood of back pain. Shrier,2 however, demonstrates that there is no evidence that stretching before exercise reduces injury.
May I suggest that these views are not necessarily incompatible. Firstly, it would seem to me that there may be a difference between stretching abnormally tight tissues into a normal range of motion as opposed to stretching normal tissues into an excessive range. Is this difference specified in the studies of the effects of stretching on injury prevention referred to by Shrier? Perhaps it is a semantic quibble, but what is stretching? Secondly, Reid and McNair illustrate the concept of the kinetic chain. Did the studies of the ineffectiveness of stretching look at stretching one link in the kinetic chain to reduce injury elsewhere or were they concerned with merely local effects?