When it comes to a warm up stretching routine, most people don’t actually do either before they exercise at all, whilst puts them at a much higher risk.
However, there are also multiple benefits associated with stretching after a workout as well, and yep, you guessed it, very few people do this as well.
Improved flexibility –
One of the main benefits associated with stretching, both before and after a workout, is the fact that it has been proven on multiple occasions to improve your flexibility substantially.
Basically, think of flexibility as to the extent in which your muscle fibres will lengthen.
As we grow older, or become less active, these muscles grow tighter and shorter, which greatly restricts flexibility and makes even the most trivial of tasks such as straightening your legs or bending down to tie your shoelaces, a painful and difficult ordeal.
Stretching regularly, however, has been proven to extend these muscle tissues and fibres, improve their elasticity and improve your flexibility as a result.
Try a few weeks of stretching daily for a few minutes each day, especially before and after a workout, and you’ll be amazed by just how more flexible you become over a relatively short amount of time.
Reduced risk of injury?
A common belief is that stretching before and after a workout can be an effective way of helping you to reduce the risk of suffering a painful injury during, or after, you exercise.
Is it believed that warming up the muscle fibres, improves their elasticity, making them longer and more flexible.
If you think of a piece of string that is being pulled tight, it is much easier to snap than a piece of string that is loose and flexible, and the same goes for your muscles.
It’s important to stretch after you workout as well, as you again are less likely to suffer a pulled muscle or painful muscle cramps as a result of the increased lactic acid levels in your body.
Dr Kickass, Mike Piekarski, a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Former MMA Fighter, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu brown belt. (Follow him on instagram.) recently concluded that it is not as simple as it seems:
Does stretching reduce injury?
A common perception is stretching reduces the risk for injuries, is this true? No / It depends. Like most things the answer is complicated.
One meta-analysis compared modalities (strengthening, balance and stretching) for injury reduction. The study notes that stretching did NOT reduce the risk for injury. However the study looked at a general stretching program to be used for an entire group of people.
So if stretching does not reduce injury why should you do it?
The key reason why stretching wasn’t beneficial is because it was too generalized. Often people will have asymmetries and range of motion / mobility deficits that may make them more prone to injury (Lauersen 2014). This means that stretching for the sake of stretching doesn’t help BUT if you have a specific range of motion deficit you may be at an increased risk for injury (Letafatkar 2014).
✳️Take away message: Do not stretch for the sake of stretching. Have a healthcare professional properly assess you to find any specific mobility deficits and address them.
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