This is an age-old debate and one that needs to be discussed a bit deeper. There are those that swear by stretching before and those that will defend to the death the idea that you only need to stretch after. So which one is it?
In general, stretching is a great practice to incorporate into your daily routine, even if you don’t exercise often. Stretching keeps your muscles flexible and able to perform their entire range of motion. If you aren’t flexible enough, your muscles won’t extend to their full length, and you face a greater likelihood of muscle strain, joint pain and injury.
Did you know, that there’s more than one type of stretching? That’s right, there’s a few. Let me explain. There’s static stretching, dynamic stretching, passive stretching and more, and different types are better suited for separate times of your workout.
Let’s look at the two main types of stretching.
Static stretching is what you are probably most familiar with. It’s the old bend over and touch your toes stretch and hold for 30 seconds. Or the bring one arm across your chest and hold with your other arm for a period of time. I think we all know this type of stretching.
The other more known type of stretching is dynamic stretching which involves running a muscle through its range of motion 10-20 times, like swinging a leg back and forth or rotating your trunk to warm up the back. Like I said before there are others but these are the main two. Feel free to ask any trainer at The Wave questions about any type of stretching.
Now that we discussed some of the main types of stretching let’s answer the question we set out to answer…Is it more important to stretch before or after a workout?
This is going to come as a shock but most experts agree that you shouldn’t static stretch before you workout. Your muscles aren’t warmed up yet and stretching won’t do much of anything to help while they are cold. Instead do some light warm ups like jumping jacks, a brisk walk or a very light jog. A better pre-workout stretch is the dynamic stretches. For example, leg swings and walking lunges are great dynamic stretches to do before running and other cardio, and arm circles can be useful for before lifting upper-body weights.
So what type of stretches works best after your workout? You guessed it; static stretches! While stretching probably won’t make you less sore the next day — by this point, the microscopic damage that causes sore muscles has already happened — research suggests that it helps improve blood flow to the limbs you stretch.
Like I said before, if you’re still confused or have any questions about stretching, feel free to ask us. We are here to help.