In a nutshell, stretching helps you become more flexible, but there are different types of stretching. So why do it? Is touching your toes or bending your back such an important concept?
Here is what may happen when you include stretching into your daily routine:
1. Improve range of motion – A joint that can move in all directions will allow you more movement freedom. The ability to perform physical activity confidently and easily is a sign of health, so flexibility should not be neglected. And one of many ways to become more flexible is by stretching.
2. Improve your posture – Slouching can be prevented by regularly stretching. Stretching can also alleviate pain in the back when you do it regularly, so stretching routines may be beneficial to people suffering from back pain. Tight muscles in your back may restrict your range of motion and cause painful stiffness. Strengthening and stretching the muscles can help you ease stiffness. As a result, you might be able to prevent muscle imbalances and improve your posture.
Now let me get right to the point: “Should We Stretch BEFORE or AFTER The Workout?”
Well I wish there was a simple answer but here’s what the science says:
1. Stretching before a workout that lasts NO MORE than 60s and is followed by dynamic warm up protocol limits the risk of strength, speed or power reduction. You may look at it this way: “when the benefits of an intervention outweigh its adverse effects or contra-indications, the answer is “yes”. Simply put if the positive effects of doing something are greater than not doing it, then let’s make it happen!
2. However if you ask whether YOU HAVE to stretch before a workout the answer more likely is “probably not”, but if you ask whether YOU CAN it changes to “probably yes”.
So far quite simple right?!
Let me explain further:
1. While stretching can help improve ROM, improving stretch tolerance, decreasing tonic reflexes, it is not the only method for improving flexibility.
2. If you are an athlete that demands an extreme range of motion then stretching will be required. However, for the general population, resistance training, foam rolling, plyometric training (that’s your jumping exercises), mobility or simply rest have been shown to have a positive effect on increasing the range of motion.
So in conclusion research related to flexibility is not as simple as one may think.
But for now I suggest you use flexibility training as part of your workout routine that will hopefully include some mobility, resistance training, dynamic movements, foam rolling (for myofascial release) and most importantly proper TECHNIQUE and MOVEMENT.
Author: Natalia Lopes