Stretching BEFORE or AFTER the workout?

Well, let’s start from the beginning: warm-up 🙂

The warm-up happens before the exercise itself and it should last for 5-10 minutes for most healthy adults.

It should begin with low- to moderate-intensity exercise or activity that gradually increases in intensity. In case of a higher intensity workout session the last part of the warm-up could include some brief higher-intensity exercise to have the athlete more prepared. As a general principle, the harder the workout and/or the older the athlete, the more extensive the warm-up should be. However, the warm-up should not be so demanding that it creates fatigue that would reduce performance, especially for competitive athletes.

Ok, got it.

But then after the warm-up do we stretch or go ahead to the workout?

Let’s talk about two types of stretching: static and dynamic stretching.

Static stretching is the one we think of when we think about stretching: where we pull our elbow down behind our head or when we finish a soccer practice and sit on a circle in the middle of the field following the coach next exercise while he counts up to 20 seconds. That’s static stretching which is usually done after the workout and not after the warm-up which probably doesn’t harm to do some brief stretching at the end of the warm-up, once the body is already warmed-up, although if it progress to a high-intensity workout, stretching may actually inhibit the ability to achieve full intensity. This happens because stretching improves muscle elasticity which lowers the force-generating capacity of proteins contraction of the muscle. But if it is done some static stretching before the workout be sure that you do after the warm-up, otherwise it may potentially be harmful. Usually static stretching after the warm-up is most beneficial for athletes requiring flexibility for their sports (for example gymnastics and dance).

Now, the dynamic stretching has the goal to warm up and not to gain flexibility as the static stretching. With series of repeated and specific movements the dynamic stretching will have the athlete more prepared for the workout. For example, when we all stand on the sideline of the soccer field and do all together a sequence of movements: butt kick, high knees, rotating arms and torso while jogging forward, and so it suits better for athletes requiring running or jumping performance during their training such as soccer players, basketball players and sprinters.

Warm-up is very important do be done before the workout, so if you arrived late to the training, hold on, get your warm-up done and then start your workout session.

As far as for static stretching, make sure to warm-up before it and enjoy its benefits:

  • Allows greater freedom of movement and improved posture
  • Increases physical and mental relaxation
  • Releases muscle tension and soreness
  • Reduces the risk of injury

All right, have a great workout!

I will see you soon,

Flavia Grohmann

“Your body can handle almost anything. It is your mind that you need to convince”

Reference: ACE Fitness

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