Have you ever wondered if stretching is important or even necessary before exercising? And if so, did you then wonder if you should stretch before, after, or both before and after a workout? It turns out that many people wonder the same thing, but continue on with their workout regimen withouth having any definitive answers to their questions.
The truth is, countless studies have been conducted, yet experts are divided on the issue. Some say stretching beforehand does nothing to prevent injury, while others say it does, but not to the extent that many people think. According to an article in fitday.com, some benefits of stretching include increased range of motion, flexibility and circulation, no matter when you stretch. In reality, if a muscle feels "tight," stretching does loosen it up, meaning that circulation has also increased in that specific area. So, if you are about to go for a run, it definitely would not hurt if you were to first stretch out your legs, back, and even arms.
However, some experts even advise people NOT to stretch before exercising, insisting that not only would it be counterproductive, but harmful as well. An article in usatoday states that when you stretch a muscle to the max, you are more likely to pull that muscle. But if you want to improve flexibility, they advise to stretch after exercising, or even at the end of the day.
If you'll notice, all fitness classes have a "warm-up" and "cool-down" portion that is encorporated into the workout. Beforehand, it is to prepare your muscles and body for what's to come and to slowly increase your heart rate. Afterwards, it's to slowly bring down your heart rate and to elongate your muscles since they are now warm and limber. So are all health clubs "wrong" for having a warm-up and cool-down? That's something to ponder when deciding what is right for you.
For many, it simply just boils down to personal preference. Some stretch before and after. Some skip out on it altogether. And others skip the stretching beforehand and go right for the core workout, leaving the stretching for the end. 31-year- old Danielle DeFebio from Coral Springs, says she always stretches not before, but after a workout. "I stretch afterwards because it feels tight on my legs." When asked how stretching aftewards makes her feel, Ms. DeFebio said it feels "less tense" and like a "release." On the other hand, 29-year-old Alan Lopez from Tamarac, says he likes to stretch before working out to "warm his muscles up" and to "help lessen muscle soreness."
So in conclusion, because different studies show different results, it may be best to conduct your own investigation and research the experts' opinions more thoroughly. Also, be mindful of what your body is telling you and what it needs. Lastly, don't forget that everyone is equipped with common sense. Use that as well when making your final decision.