We all know that it is important to warm-up before working out, but is stretching important?In this article we are going to look at the reasons for stretching both before and after a workouts. We are also going to determine if it is really that important.

Let’s have a look at two of the most popular kinds of stretching.


Static Stretching:

Static stretching is when you stretch and hold the muscle just beyond its normal range of motion. When your muscles are cold, stretching them in this manner may lead to injuries which range from minor strains to actual tears. Making use of static stretching which pre-lengthens your muscle before your workout. This will decrease your muscles’ power output, thereby decreasing performance. It is therefore not advised for pre –workout warm up.

Dynamic Stretching:

Dynamic stretches make use of controlled movements that slowly bring the muscles close to their range of motion limit without exceeding it. The end or stretched position is not held. The type of stretching is designed to prepare the body and warm up the muscles for the activity at hand. For example, if you were going to train legs you could warm up your leg muscles by doing walking lunges.

Is Stretching Important Before a Workout?

To be honest, I personally don’t feel that stretching before a workout is that important. In fact, two studies actually prove that stretching before your workout can decrease your strength during the workout.

Stretching, especially static stretching is helps improve flexibility. In order to improve flexibility you need to stretch the muscles when they are warm. Think of your muscles as rubber bands. It’s easier to stretch a rubber band when it’s warm as apposed to when it’s cold.

However, before you start to exercise, it is always advised to warm-up. This is generally to prevent injury, but what do you do if you aren’t doing stretches. Well, you can look at doing dynamic stretching.


Benefits of dynamic stretching pre-workout:

  • Increased power
  • Increased endurance
  • Improved coordination
  • Improved balance
  • Helps prevent injury
  • More efficient neuromuscular activation
  • Enhanced speed of contraction
  • Increases in mental preparedness

Another thing you can do is by doing light cardiovascular exercise before your workout i.e. cycling, running, etc. So, to get back to our question. Is static stretching important before a workout? No, not at all.

Is dynamic stretching important before your workout? It’s probably not essential, but as you can see, dynamic stretching has got tons of benefits when done before you workout. so I’ll say yes, dynamic stretching is important before your workout.


Is Stretching Important After a Workout

We have learnt in the previous section that dynamic stretching is important before you start your workout, but what about post-workout? Well, this is where static stretching can be of huge benefit.

Benefits of static stretching after a workout:

  • Helps to alleviate muscle soreness
  • Helps to alleviate muscle fatigue
  • Increased blood circulation
  • Increased flow of oxygen
  • Increases flexibility
  • Increased rate of hypertrophy due to increased satellite cell activation
  • Enhanced release of growth factors (hepatocyte growth factor, myogenin, IGF-1)

So, is static stretching important after your workout? If you are keen to improve and increase what we mentioned above, I’ll say yes, definitely!

When stretching post-workout, it is advised to perform loaded fascial stretches which make use of static stretches. An example of this would be to perform a dumbbell fly (as it emphasizes the stretched position of the pectoral muscle) but instead of completing a number of reps. Hold the movement in the stretched or bottom position for 20-30 seconds.

Holding the stretch for this time allows the fascia to be affected by the stretch. This will elicit all of the above benefits. This is going to hurt while you hold the stretch, but there is a difference between injury and muscle “burn”.

Conclusion:

What do you think and feel about stretching? What are your goals? Let us rephrase the question from “Is stretching important?” to, “Is stretching important to you?” You need to determine your goals. If your goals include what is listed above, then yes, we feel it’s time you include some stretching into your routine!




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