This Article is About
workout
strains and sprains
light jogging
hamstrings
muscle groups
stretches
old school
athlete
few minutes
Stretching The Truth A Little Bit: The Truth About Stretching Before And After Your Workout
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Stretching the Truth A Little Bit: The Truth About Stretching Before And After Your Workout

We have all heard it repeated time and time again. You have to stretch before you run or jog with some trainers telling you that you should stretch before you take a walk that is longer than around the block. But, stretching before your workout, especially the traditional, static stretches, might be doing more harm than good according to a number of new studies. Experts now recommend a few minutes of light jogging, marching in place or even a few jumping jacks to get the blood pumping and the muscles warmed up before stretching and to use a different type of stretching, especially for the first few minutes.

Stretching cold muscles increases the risk of injuries including minor strains and sprains but could also include more serious injuries like tearing. The deeper you try to force the stretch, the more likely you are to be injured. Static stretching also came with the old school thinking that you had to feel pain for it to be effective. If it didn't hurt, you were not pressing it far enough. But, static stretching or long stretches before the exercise begins also causes other problems as well. For instance, for every minute that you spent stretching before you start running, for instance, it is likely that that is a minute you lose in endurance, speed or power. For the casual athlete that might not be a problem, but for someone who is competing it is a major deal.

Learning new, moving stretches can help lessen the risk of injury as well as minimizing the decline in performance overall. But, some researchers have found that unless you are unusually tight in certain muscle groups, you really do not need to spend very long stretching. If you are going for a run, for instance, you might only need to do a few stretches to loosen up the hamstrings and the calves. You certainly do not need to stand there and do a full body stretch.

Researchers also have said that the post workout cool down stretch is not as important as previously thought either. While it might feel good to stretch, especially after a long workout, the risk of injury is also higher and in the long run, it will not change your risk for soreness the next day. The risk of injury might be even higher for those who have better than average flexibility because they are already so loose in their joints- they might not feel discomfort right away or may discount it as post workout soreness.


Street Talk

Interesting article. Unfortunately I have to disagree with you regarding post-workout stretching. You mentioned that the risk of injury increases when you stretch after a workout. Well after doing thorough research I've found out that stretching after working out is in fact beneficial for your health in the long run. When you stretch after a workout your "Golgi Reflex" is activated, forcing you to not stretch too far. However you can reduce the activation of the "Golgi Reflex" by holding the stretch for a certain period of time. When the sensation of discomfort has gone away, this allows you to be able to stretch further, allowing you to improve your flexibility. Being flexible reduces your chances of injury since your muscles are lengthened, increasing your potential to absorb impact forces.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

I believe you misunderstood the post workout stretch in relation to this article. It is not necessary, I did not say not beneficial. That is a whole other topic. Many people think that they HAVE to do it or that it will help with releasing lactic acid built up during exercise. That has been proven to be untrue and for the average person putting in a moderate workout, the cool down stretch is not vital. On the other hand, a person who does a more intense workout which sends the heart rate higher, the cool down stretch is necessary to prevent hypo-tensive reactions. I hope this clears up the confusion.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Yes, there has been a misunderstanding. At first I was assuming that it was an intense workout thus the reason to include a post-workout stretch, everything is cleared now.

  
  about 7 years ago

Thanks for writing the article. I plan to walk or run every morning when it is light at 6 AM. This information will help me. Your article also reminded me about when I was in college, I signed up for a PE class first thing in the morning- like 7 or 8 AM, I can't remember now. That teacher offered us the choice of doing the regular PE requirements or participating in his "stretching study." He had us first see how much we could lift on certain weight machines. Then, we stretched for a certain number of days, I think 3, for about an hour. We promised not to lift weights or do certain exercises until we completed the study. Then, we lifted the same weights to see if there was a change in what we could lift. I don't remember how much difference there was for me, but it did increase and I was quite limber after the study.

Reply
  about 7 years ago
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