Stretching is so simple and basic, yet people get very confused about when to stretch. Should you stretch before exercise or after or during or some combination? Here is what some experts sat as well as what I actually do in practice.
Stretching before exercise is a great thing, in fact I won’t exercise with stretching. Sometimes my kids laugh at me when I stretch before playing with them, but a lot of kid’s play is actually exercise!
Experts say you shouldn’t stretch cold. You should warm up a little first. I might spend a few minutes walking on a treadmill or outside or bike slowly and gently on flat ground to warm up. Then I’ll stretch. I’ll admit occasionally I’ll stretch cold, meaning without a warmup. When I do I stretch extra slowly and gently.
I sometimes stretch during a workout too. Admittedly this is rarer, but if switching exercises it sometimes makes a lot of sense. For example if I switch from running on a treadmill to lifting free weights for my upper body, I’ll usually stretch in between.
How about after a workout? Experts say you should stretch after a workout, however not immediately afterwards. You should cool down by reducing your rate of exertions for at least five minutes first before stretching. Do I always? No, time is often short, but I try too. With some exercise, for example running, I always stretch afterwards, but with some exercise, for example a gentle bike ride, I’m less likely too.
Stretching is easy and important, but it takes time and time is often short. I recommend what the experts recommend; always stretch before and after, as well as during when appropriate. I’ve also let you know what I really do, which isn’t necessarily perfect but is much better than no stretching at all. I do seem to stretch much more than most people in my gym!