A frequent question that is asked is when should I stretch, should this be before my workout, during or strictly at the end of a session. Is there a right time to stretch and what type of stretches should you be doing? Let's also take a look at why stretching is important and the benefits of sticking to a stretching routine...
We are always told by our friends, bosses, colleagues and the media the importance of working out and why we should spend at least 30 minutes of our day being active. For many of us we have desk jobs which means we spend most of our time on our bottoms being the complete opposite of what we are advised to do. Exercising means we can lose weight, increase stamina, build muscles and makes us feel great about ourselves. But how many of you have experienced injuries or niggles through exercising because you maybe aren't stretching enough?
Stretching is seen as one of those tasks that will only be done if you feel in the mood to do it, am I right? The main issue that stretching has with people is the fact that it takes up more time to do it on top of the hour workout you have already done. It is said that you should stretch for as long as you perform resistance training to have an equal balance in the body. Too much resistance training and not enough stretching can cause imbalances which then result in injury. You might already be experiencing niggles and pains and if this is the case, you should start stretching and this is when it is best to do it.
When To Stretch
I tend to do minimal stretching at the start of a cardio or resistance session because I warm up with the specific muscles I will be using. For instance, when training legs I warm up performing light squats before going into my heavy ones. So my warm up is specific to what I am about to do and I stretch in between and at the end of my sessions.
Stretch When Warm
When you stretch it is important to warm up properly so that you can stretch more effectively and prevent injury. A common mistake I see in the gym is that people will stretch before they have even done anything which could be more harmful than good. So my advice is to make sure you are warmed up before stretching which allows your muscles to respond more to what is happening.
Stretching at the end of a workout is the most beneficial time to do it as this releases the muscles from the tension you have put them through in your workout. When working out the muscles break down and they are more contracted than when you started exercising. Stretching for a few minutes on each muscle area will help free up the area and allow for better recovery and maintaining good posture.