Stretching is an excellent practice to incorporate in our everyday lives. This is due to the many benefits it has, such as keeping your muscles flexible and able to work to their full length. Essentially this means, how far that muscle can bend and twist. It also helps prevent muscle injury or strain.
There are many different types of stretching, the most common being static and dynamic stretching. Static stretching is when you stretch a muscle by holding a particular stretch for a long period of time and often is repeated. Dynamic stretching is when you perform movements through the entire range of motion without reaching an end point.
Today we will be talking about whether it is better to stretch before or after exercise and what type of stretch is better when.
Stretching before exercise?
There are many people who believe different ideas about when and when not to stretch. However, you should not perform static stretching before exercise. This is due to the fact that the muscles are not warm yet and as your body is cold, it will not help in injury prevention. Anytime you try and stretch muscles that are cold, the body helps by providing a protective mechanism to not over stretch. This means that stretching when your muscles are cold (before exercise), causes everything to tighten. You would then be working your body out in a contracted, tight state which leads to decreased performance and can lead to injury.
What you can do before an exercise routine or class is an active warm up for 10-15 minutes. This enables you muscles to warm up and prepare for exercise. An active warm up can include dynamic stretching as it improves range of motion and helps your body prepare for movement.
Stretching after exercise?
There is a great deal of benefits to stretching post exercise. The best time to stretch is when your muscles are warm which is directly after exercise rather than before. As you have been moving your muscles, there is an increase in circulation in these muscles which is why after exercising you are more flexible, and this increases overall flexibility. After exercise, muscles are generally tight which can cause a risk of muscle injury. Stretching after exercise reduces this risk of muscle injury. Stretching after exercise is also known to cool your body down and slow down your breathing and heart rate in order to bring your body back to its normal resting state.
To conclude, it is very important we stretch at any time of the day. However it is best to perform dynamic stretching before exercise and static stretching after exercise.