If you are exercising to lose weight and improve mood and health, stretching before exercise will deliver a host of benefits. If you are an elite athlete trying to reduce your risk of injury and build strength, stretching won’t really help much.
Athletes have tried stretching to speed up muscle recovery, which is the term for returning muscles to full function without soreness. Multiple studies have shown that stretching does not accelerate muscle recovery and that only massage is consistently effective.
The rest of us find that our bodies adapt to consistent exercise by changing muscle structure, metabolism and physiology. That’s called remodeling or, in plain speak, shaping up. Stretching as a part of exercise helps with a host of good things: connective tissue strengthening, range-of-motion improvement, joint alignment and potentially blood flow during subsequent exercise.