There’s often some confusion around stretching, particularly when it comes to timing. Today we’re aiming to clear that up for you.
Should you stretch before a workout?
This is often asked since there are conflicting opinions and research on whether stretching before you workout is a good idea. However, stretching before a workout is crucial for preventing injury as well as improving performance. Especially if you exercise right after waking up or if you’re pretty sedentary during the day, your muscles are going to be tight.
What type of stretching before your workout?
This is where it’s important. You may have heard stretching is ‘bad’ before a workout but it depends on the type of stretch. Before working out, it’s best to do a dynamic warm-up. As opposed to static stretches, which are held for 30 seconds or more in the same position (think toe touches), this type of stretching involves active movements that mimic your actual workout. For example, runners often perform dynamic stretches like hip circles, walking lunges, and butt kicks to activate the muscle groups used in running. During dynamic stretching, you’re constantly moving, so it provides a cardio warm-up as well.
Not only will you reduce your risk of injury, but research also shows that dynamic stretching can help improve athletic performance. One study found that college wrestlers who completed a dynamic warm-up for four weeks saw improvements in strength, endurance, agility, and anaerboic capacity.
Stretching After Your Workout
After your workouts and on those all important rest days, this is the time for static exercises to shine. Rather than for warming up, these stretches improve flexibility and relax your muscles. This is vital post-workout and reduces stiffness on your rest days. Not only does this make life easier but it will also promote muscle growth and recovery.
So to summarise - dynamic stretching before your workouts and static stretching after your workout!