Our patients ask this question often: « When should I do my stretches? Before or after my workout? » It is often while discussing leisure activities and/or sports with our patients that we find that there is still confusion about the ideal time to stretch.
So, let’s discuss what to do BEFORE and AFTER a workout.
First of all, before a workout, you must make sure that you prepare the muscles you will use in our workout. This means that you must warm up while moving, also called dynamic stretching!
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO AS A WARM UP?
The goal of your warm up is to prepare the muscles you will be using during your workout. If you are training in a fitness center, we recommend using a cardio machine (ex. stationary bike, treadmill, elliptical) for 5 to 10 minutes. At home, you may simply run on the spot, jump rope, or go up and down the stairs.
Following this, you can do a series of dynamic movements to stretch and warm up the muscles you will be training.
Here are some examples:
Squats, heel to buttocks, etc.
Heel to Buttocks
WHY NOT STATIC STRETCHES BEFORE A WORKOUT?
In the past, static stretching of the muscles was recommended before training because it was thought to be beneficial. However, over time, scientific research has demonstrated that static stretching of a ‘cold’ muscle is not ideal and may increase the risk of injury. The muscle follows a principle similar to a rubber band: if you stretch a cold, fragile elastic, it has a higher chance of snapping. However, through dynamic stretching, the muscle will be flexible and stretch further.
WHAT EXERCISES SHOULD YOU DO AFTER A WORKOUT – COOL DOWN?
It is now the moment that you stretch the muscles in a static or way. When the muscles are warmed up at the end of the workout, muscle fibers can be stretched to increase muscle flexibility!
The second question often asked is how long to hold the stretch.
In fact, research shows that to have an effective stretch, you have to hold the stretch for 1 minute. You can hold a stretch 4 times for 15 seconds each time, 3 times for 20 seconds each time, or twice for 30 seconds each time. The important factor is that the total stretch time is 1 minute.
Which muscles can you stretch? In short, almost all!!! Here are examples of large muscle groups to stretch:
Overall, it is better to WARM UP your muscles BEFORE a workout and STRETCH the muscles AFTER each workout.
If you have additional questions about stretching or training, do not hesitate to contact your rehabilitation team at Kinatex Sports Physio.