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Should You Stretch Before or After a Workout?

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  • 4 years ago
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"Do you need to warm up before stretching? I've heard that you shouldn't stretch 'cold' muscles. Is that true? Also, is there such a thing as too much stretching?" - Carrie A. Groff

There is a lot of conflicting info out there about stretching and what's best.. these are my thoughts after my personal experiences and years with clients and students.

It may not directly prevent injury, but moving through a more full range of motion can help your form during an exercise, which in turn can help reduce your risk of injury.

Some argue that stretching won't help relieve muscle soreness, but I find that it does help my body. Whether or not it's scientifically proven doesn't matter to me if it helps my body feel better!

While you certainly don't want to just drop into a split upon first waking up, there isn't a major reason you can't -gently- stretch without a big warm up beforehand if you are stretching properly.

You may reap more benefit from stretching post workout though as your body will be more limber and more able to move through a full range of motion (like the tin man oiled up), this is especially true when it comes to static stretching (or the kind where you hold a stretch for 30 seconds or more).

Dynamic stretching (like walking lunges, rotational movements, etc) before a workout can be a great part of your warm up.

Depending on your workout, it may be best to save the stretching after your workout. For instance, some research shows that static stretches done prior to sprinting negatively effected athlete's performance.

The amount of stretching you need will vary greatly depending on your daily activity, workouts, etc. For example, if you spend a lot of tense hours at work slouched at your desk/computer/traveling on a plane, train or auto, you may need to stretch more often to help balance your body again.

When do you like to stretch? Do you stretch at all? Have you noticed a difference in your body?

Got a question for me? Leave it in the comments below and I may answer it in an upcoming Q and A episode!

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