My thoughts. When I get a well established fifth or sixth node, I remove everything under 4 because it never amounts to much in my grows.
After that, I tie down nodes, bend, fold and tuck fans out of the way. But I grow autos, and you can't stress an auto.
I take off leaves that touch the soil as having your leaves touching the soil is supposed to be a good way to get powdery mildew. I tried a heavy defoliation this grow (schwazzed) and I'm getting leaf drop in week 6 of flower for the first time. Don't think I'll be doing that again.