How Important Is Stretching Before And After Exercise?
Posted by Nancy on October 28, 2013
When it comes to the subject of stretching before and after exercise, there are definitely two different schools of thinking. Some fitness experts swear that it is the right thing to do prior to exercise to “loosen” up muscles in preparation for more vigorous exercise. They contend that such stretching improves flexibility by lengthening out tight muscles and increases blood flow. An increase in blood flow, they feel, may reduce muscle soreness and the potential for injury. Many others feel differently. They claim that such stretching is not at all necessary and in fact may do more harm than good. The British Journal Of Sports Medicine found that stretching before exercise does not produce important reduction in soreness at all.
With such mixed results it appears that the decision of whether to do pre-exercise stretching or not is up for grabs. If you feel that it is beneficial for you, then go ahead and stretch out prior to your workout but don’t over do it.
The subject of stretching after exercise is also a divided topic. Many experts believe that this type of stretching should be recommended as it increases range of motion. Others disagree. The routine of assuming a pose (such as standing against a wall to stretch the hamstring muscles or bending over to touch our toes) is called static stretching. In a recent study of nearly 3,000 individuals, 54 percent fell into the category of those who firmly believed such static stretching helped in reduction of muscle soreness after a workout. Interestingly, in that same study the official findings by the George Institute For Global Health were that the results from their control groups (one of which claimed a reduction of soreness and the other which did not notice such a reduction) were not much different.
These inconclusive findings do not support the notion that pre and post exercise stretching is beneficial but they also do not find it to be problematic. Therefore, one likely should continue doing whatever it is that seems to work for them. If you are committed to stretching out before you begin your exercise regiment, by all means continue to do so. If, on the other hand, you do not like to start and end your exercise in this manner, there seems good evidence that it is not necessary for you feel you need to. Use your best judgment on what works for you.