Evidence for the effectiveness of acute and chronic stretching for improving range of motion is extensive. Improved flexibility can positively impact performances in activities of daily living and both physical and mental health. However, less is known about the effects of stretching on other aspects of health such as injury incidence and balance. The objective of this review is to examine the existing literature in these areas. The review highlights that both pre-exercise and chronic stretching can reduce musculotendinous injury incidence, particularly in running-based sports, which may be related to the increased force available at longer muscle lengths (altered force-length relationship) or reduced active musculotendinous stiffness, among other factors. Evidence regarding the acute effects of stretching on balance is equivocal. Longer-term stretch training can improve balance, which may contribute to a decreased incidence of falls and associated injuries and may thus be recommended as an important exercise modality in those with balance deficits. Hence, both acute and chronic stretching seem to have positive effects on injury incidence and balance, but optimum training plans are yet to be defined.

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