25 Jun To Stretch or Not to Stretch?
You’re just about to start your workout when you start to wonder if you should give your muscles a quick stretch before you begin. You’ve heard about the benefits of stretching: reduced muscle soreness, improved performance, and greater flexibility, but you hate making time for it at the beginning of your workouts so you decide to skip it and start your workout. Well, you just might be on to something, sort of…
Over the past few years, there has been much debate over and research about the benefits of stretching. When we were younger, most of us were probably told that we need to stretch both before and after working out and that thought has carried with us into adulthood. What may be surprising though is that static stretching before a workout may actually be a hindrance to performance and may even cause injury.
According to an article in USA Today, static stretching before a workout has been shown to make us slower and weaker because it causes our muscles to tighten rather than relax. This means that during our workouts we can no longer move as quickly or freely as we normally would so we’re more likely to get hurt.
Instead of static stretching, experts recommend warming-up with a light jog, dynamic stretching (such as lunges or high knees), or even an activity that mimics the type of exercises you’re about to do. Because this type of warm-up will help to increase the heart rate and blood flow, thus helping to prevent injuries, it is suggested to decrease the amount of static stretching and increase the amount of time spent warming-up.
That being said, static stretching still has its place and benefits. While it shouldn’t be done before working out, it can be done during the day if you’re not planning to exercise right after and it should be done after completing a workout. This will help your muscles relax as well as improve your range of motion.
Trainers always suggest stretching after a workout which may seem time consuming, but according to an article in Men’s Fitness you don’t have to stretch every muscle; you really only need to stretch the ones that are particularly tight from your workout or daily posture. While stretching, you should feel a slight pull with a little discomfort, but not pain. Hold each stretch for about 30-60 seconds.
BodyBuilding.com has some stretching tips that could prove beneficial the next time you exercise. Also, examples of dynamic stretching exercises can be found on the BuiltLean website, while some static stretching exercises can be found on Brian Mac’s (Sports Coach) website.
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credit – Cori Breedlove