Is stretching important? Is it better to stretch before or after a workout?
Stretching IS important. Not only if you’re being physically active, but also to reduce the risk of injury and keep your body’s joints and limbs moving well so that normal daily motions remain easy.
Flexibility is the range of motion of a joint. Can you reach up high to grab a dish off the top shelf? Or squat down and reach to the back of a low cupboard? Both tasks require you to move your joints - having good flexibility means you can reach higher or bend lower, making those tasks easier to do. Flexibility is one part of physical fitness and can be improved by stretching.
There are 3 types of stretching:
- Static stretching: This is when you lengthen a muscle to the point of mild discomfort, hold the position for 20-30 seconds and then release.
- Ballistic stretching: This is when a muscle is stretched with a bouncing type movement. You may have seen track and field athletes do this.
- PNF: Its full name is quite a mouthful – proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation. It involves stretching the muscle, contracting it isometrically (squeezing the muscle but not moving the limb), then stretching it again and further.
Did you know? Activities that involve stretching, like Yoga, can relax your muscles, avoid unnecessary tension and help with headaches.
- Stretch AFTER being physically active. Muscles respond best to lengthening when they are warm and have blood flow. Static or PNF stretching after exercising will benefit you most.
- Do mild stretches daily. Try these suggestions to start.
- Take precautions if you have a health condition. If you have a health conditions, like osteoporosis, you can still stretch but certain precautions are recommended. Call the Physical Activity Line (8-1-1) for advice or talk to your health care provider.
- Avoid stretching an injured area. You should feel a gentle pull or mild discomfort when you stretch, but not pain!
- Avoid stretching after hard intervals.
- Don’t do ballistic stretching on your own. Some athletes will incorporate ballistic stretching as part of their warm-up routine. However, this is best done under the guidance of a coach or qualified exercise professional.
Stretching is beneficial for so many daily activities! It helps you stay limber, can be relaxing, and keeps your joints moving optimally.
Share how stretching has positively affected you. Leave a comment down below!