Table 4

Summary of findings

Patient or population: people who exercise regularly*
Intervention: stretching lower limb and trunk muscles before and after physical activity
Comparison: no stretching
Illustrative comparative risks (95% CI)
OutcomesAssumed risk (non-stretching)Corresponding risk (stretching)Relative effect (95% CI)No of participantsQuality of evidence (GRADE)
All injuries Follow-up: 12 weeks562 per 1000545 per 1000 (470 to 633)HR 0.97 (0.84 to 1.13)2377 (1 study)Embedded ImageModerate§
Bothersome soreness Average experienced during a week323 per 1000246 per 1000 (218 to 281)OR 0.69 (0.59 to 0.82)
Muscle, ligament and tendon injuries Follow-up: 12 weeks177 per 1000133 per 1000 (104 to 171)HR 0.75 (0.59 to 0.96)
Severity of soreness (scale from 0 to 10)Mean 2.9Mean severity of soreness in the stretch group was 0.4 lower (0.2 to 0.5 lower)
Looseness during activity (scale from 0 to 10)Mean 3.3Mean looseness during activity in the stretch group was 0.3 higher (0.1 to 0.4 higher)
Looseness after activity (scale from 0 to 10)Mean 3.7Mean looseness after activity in the stretch group was 0.4 higher (0.3 to 0.6 higher)
Time spent stretching (per session of physical activity)None7 min before and 7 min after activity
  • * Participants in the study typically exercised four times per week (half exercised three or four times per week) and engaged in a variety of activities, including running (32%), training in a gym (31%) and cycling (14%).

  • The basis for the assumed risk is what was observed in this study. The corresponding risk (and its 95% CI) is based on the incidence rate or risk in the group that did not stretch and the relative effect of the intervention (and its 95% CI). Different assumed risks (ie, a higher or lower risk without stretching) would be expected to result in different corresponding risks (assuming that the relative effect is the same).

  • ‡ All of the estimates of effect are based on this study, which is the only community-based study.

  • § We used the GRADE system to assess quality of evidence.17 We downgraded the quality of evidence for all six outcomes from high to moderate because they were self-reported, data were incomplete, and the CIs do not rule out either a potentially important effect (for all injuries) or a potentially unimportant effect (for other outcomes). Moderate quality indicates the true effect is likely to be close to the estimates shown here, but there is a possibility that they are substantially different.

  • GRADE Working Group grades of evidence are as follows: ++++ High - we are confident that the true effect lies close to what was found in the research; +++ Moderate - the true effect is likely to be close to what was found, but there is a possibility that it is substantially different; ++ Low - the true effect may be substantially different from what was found; + Very low - we are very uncertain about the effect.