I get asked this question frequently from patients and clients alike. It is easy to become confused because as with many things the recommendations for when to stretch have changed. Stretching the major muscles groups used during exercise is best done after exercising. Gone are the days of reaching down and touching our toes, bouncing up and down before heading off on a run. Stretching prior to exercise will actually inhibit the activation of those muscles making them weaker. This is thought to last for ~30mins.
Why is stretching important after exercise?
There are several reasons not to let time get in the way of stretching after exercise. Stretching the muscles that were used during your work out will go a long way in the prevention of injury. By increasing your flexibility you will improve your ability to move as well as the range of motion of the associated joints. Your posture will also likely improve.
Here are some good reminders
- Always stretch muscles that have been well warmed up.
- Stretch slowly and gently. Breathe into your stretch to avoid muscle tension. Hold each stretch for 10-30 sec.
- Never bounce when stretching. This can cause injury.
- Stretching should never hurt. Pain means you are stretching too aggressively. Stretch gently, breathe deeply and relax into it.
My next blog entry will show my favorite stretches along with the do’s and don’ts