When to Stretch: Before or After Workout?
To stretch before or after workout, that is the question!
This question has to be the most confusing question in all of workout history! Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but I still hear this all the time. Here’s a breakdown of what type of stretches to do when according to the current fitness science and news:
What most people think of when talking about stretching is static stretching- stretching a muscle in position and holding it for a period of time. Although there is nothing wrong with this type of stretching,
almost all newer studies now say static that stretching should happen after workouts rather than before because it negatively affects muscle performance when done beforehand. To read more about it or for reference check out these articles on static stretching and when to do it.
A far better option for stretching before workouts is dynamic stretching, which is basically movements that are similar to what you’ll be doing during your workout at a much smaller intensity and range of motion. Dynamic stretching preps your muscles for your workout and can actually improve your performance during your workout too. Some examples include: Walking lunges with overhead reach, plank with rotation, and ankle and leg circles.
My preferred option to prep your muscles before your workout is to foam roll and this can be done before your dynamic stretching as well. You can foam roll your muscles both before and after your workout, however, doing it before your workout maximizes your muscles ability to function properly together as a whole and helps prevent injury.
Some tips on foam rolling:
Focus on foam rolling only your muscles that are overly tight to improve your workout performance.
A good trainer can perform a movement assessment to tell you which muscles are overly tight in your form. For example: most people who sit in a desk will have tight IT bands and hip flexors and should foam roll the outsides of their thighs.
Focus on finding the tender spots or knots through the muscle with the foam roller then holding on those spots for a minimum of 20-30 seconds. A good trainer can do a movement assessment and let you know what these are.
If you choose to do some basic static stretching after your workout here are some tips to get the most benefit out of it:
Hold each stretch for a 20 second limit. Studies show that longer than that has no negative effect but also will not do you more good.
Do not over-stretch! Stop at the first sign of tension in the muscle and hold. We all have protective reflex tendons that will actually seize up and contract if they are overstretched, thus canceling out what you are trying to accomplish with the stretch.
How do you typically stretch for your workouts? If you have any thoughts or comments leave them for our community below and if you like this post share it with your friends on social!fitness, flexibility, healthy, strength training, stretching, workout