YMCA of Southern Nevada

Is Stretching Before or After a Workout Better for Your Body?

We are all busy taking care of our financial, mental, emotional, and relationship goals. However, somewhere between that busy schedule, you want to sneak in a workout to take care of your physical health. Working out frequently not only strengthens the body but also boosts general health and mental wellness. However, the quality of your workout matters as much as the quantity. 

Stretching reduces stiffness, pain, and discomfort. It also improves flexibility and blood flow to prevent injuries and ensure that all your workouts are right for you. However, should you stretch before or after the workout?

A Breakdown of when to Stretch

The debate of stretching before or after the workout has persisted for several years. Generally, most people always stretch before intense physical activity. Even children do it at the beginning of a P.E. lesson. Most of these stretches are static stretches, where you stand, sit, or perform an action in the same position for up to 45 seconds. 

Studies later revealed that static stretching compromised the quality of workouts by reducing muscular power. However, working out without stretching is severely counterproductive and risky. As such, static stretching, while good for the body, is best performed after a workout, especially if you’re lifting weights. 

Dynamic stretches, which involve movement exercises, are great before a workout. They do not lower your performance and provide the full range of flexibility and motion before a workout. However, the stretches you do ultimately depend on the type of exercise. Stretch all the muscles you intend to use during your training to improve the quality of physical activity.  

Examples of Dynamic Stretches 

Torso Twist

The torso twist targets the spine and keeps it flexible for physical activity. To do the torso twist, stand up straight, and spread your legs shoulder-width apart. Then, bend your arms at the elbows to create a 90-degree angle. Hold this arm and leg position and start twisting your upper body to the left and right while holding the twists for a few seconds on each side. 

Walking Lunge 

Lunges are excellent for stretching the glutes, hamstrings, hips, and abdominal muscles. To perform a lunge, stand straight and place your hands at your waist. Step forward with your right foot at 90 degrees but leave your left leg behind to support your body. Keep your upper body straight as you alternate the steps and bend to form the lunges. 

Examples Static Stretches 

Shoulder Capsule Stretch

Kick off your arm workouts by stretching your shoulders. Begin by standing straight and bringing the left arm across your chest. Use your right arm to pull the stretched arm towards your body and feel the tension in your left shoulder joint and upper arm.  

Cobra Pose

The cobra pose targets your chest, abdominal muscles and shoulders. Lie flat on your stomach and bring your arms to the chest level, and use them to support your upper body, while keeping your legs on the ground. Keep your head high and face straight ahead as you hold the position.  

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