The debate over stretching has been going on for years. Usually it is the last component of an exercise routine to be addressed. It is usually overlooked and done for a few minutes at the beginning or ending of a workout. Nebraska-Wesleyan researches did a study on whether tight muscles help you or hinder you while exercising. They found that tight muscles in runners made them run more econical, meaning that inflexibility seemed to make running easier.While being inflexible may make you a little faster in running, and I would extrapolate from there that it would pertain to biking, swimming, and other forms of cardio-vascular exercise and even translate into the weight room. Meaning that inflexibility might make you able to lift a little heavier weight then if you were very loose and flexible. But I look at exercising and lifestyle as a way to help you feel better and decrease pain, rather than just to look better and be stronger or faster. Now if you are a professional athlete, or have aspirations to become a serious athlete, then your main goal with exercising should be to lift heavier weights or to run faster or bike faster. But for most of us, we just want to feel good and hopefully look a little better as well. If you are inflexible and lifting heavy weights, or inflexible and running a lot, it will create discomfort. The muscles will be tighter and therefore more succeptable to becoming imbalanced. When the muscles get out of alignment or out of balance, they will pull on the joints in different ways and cause the joints to wear differently then how they were designed. This will cause they joints to wear down quicker and cause the dreaded osteo-arthritis to rear it’s ugly head much earlier then it would otherwise. Meaning that the more inflexible you are, the heavier weights you use, the more high impact exercising such as running you do, will cause your joints to wear out quicker then they would otherwise.There is debate as to whether you can alter how flexible you are. A lot of flexibility is genetic. And when you stretch, the muscles will revert back to being tight soon after stretching. But I feel that every time you stretch, you are working out some of the daily accumulation of tightness that we all get. Meaning that everyone has repetitive issues in our lives. Whether you are a stay at hom parent, working on an assembly line, or anything else, you will be doing similar things throughout each day. And every day you do those same motions, the muscles will tighten up a little more each and every day. Until the muscles get so tight that they pull on the joints and cause them to wear differently The muscles can get so tight they can tear on a microscopic level, leading to sprains and strains, back and hip and shoulder and neck pain, amoung other types of issues.So even if the effects of stretching are temporary, you are still doing some permanent good by working out some of the daily accumulation of tightness. And if you keep at stretching, you will eventually increase your flexibility, making you less succeptable to joint issues, osteo-arthritis, sprains and strains, and most importantly, less succeptable to the pain and disablity that accompanies these issues.