While there are varying opinions on “when” to actually do it, experts widely agree that stretching is beneficial for everyone and can help performance for athletes of all ages.
As for the first question of when to do it, there is more and more research that suggests there are two times that may boost more benefits as opposed to stretching before working out:
• After a short warm-up prior to the main portion of your workout. As an example, if your main workout is a two-mile jog, you may benefit from a short walk followed by a few minutes of stretching prior to the two-mile jog.
• Simply after the two-mile jog is over would be another option that may reap nice rewards for your muscles. So why do many experts not like stretching before the workout? Many studies show that stretching cold muscles could do more harm than good. If there is little or no blood flow in the muscles and they are “cold,” the real benefits of a quality stretching routine may not be received. Stretching “warm” muscles following a short warm-up oftentimes feels better and allows for a stronger main workload portion of your workout.
As with all exercise, the main thing to avoid is stretching a muscle to the point of pain. Stretching done properly should push the muscles past the normal comfort feeling but should not hurt. One easy change that many people could benefit from is to do a three- or four-minute stretching routine in the middle of the day. This could be especially for those people in an office setting, where they are sedentary behind a desk for most of the day. A walk through or around the office, followed by a brief stretching routine could lead to a more productive afternoon — and may be a nice alternative to the caffeine pick-me-up that many people rely on.
Information provided by Nicole Hill, general manager, Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping, 986-4199.