As my gym journey began, I asked different people who should know something about it, because I was curious about both, which one is better”, “should I do both”, or ” is stretching not for me?” I’ve spent too much of my time explaining if you should do stretching before or after a workout to my friends, and now I will share it with you, and here is your quick answer:
If you want to stretch, you should do it only after a workout, that will help your tightened muscle to relax faster. There is a lot of fake information aboutstretching after a workout, but after many studies, it looks like they aren’t highly beneficial for your body after a workout.
They won’t prevent injuries or help with soreness after exercise. They won’t hurt you, but if you really want to do some stretches it should be more “static stretching” and not “dynamic stretching” after a workout, but the important thing is that you should avoid stretching before a workout. If you’re curious why stretching before is bad for you, why stretching after a workout is not highly beneficial, or what “static stretching” means, stay with us.
Why stretching before a workout is bad for you?
Many of us got this one from our youth, as we were in school. We were told by our teachers to stretch before every exercise, but it came out to be bad practice for our bodies, especially if we want to involve our lower body. As we can see in a study from PubMed, they found that static stretching, when done alone before any exercise, will lead to decreases in power, strength, and performance overall.
And most important, that static stretching won’t prevent you from any injuries, and it’ll also lead to bad workouts. Not everything that we learned in school is good for us, so much time is wasted on bad education programs. When it comes to basic things like exercises, we need to learn everything from scratch.
Let’s change your pre-workout routine and add something to it, as a great warm-up. Focus mostly on your warm-up on parts that you will be using mostly in your real workout. We will suggest you:
- Side lunges – This exercise is for your lower body and can help strengthen your legs, hips, and glutes.
- Push-ups – This exercise is for your upper body, glutes, and core. To make it more challenging, you can do push-ups on your knees, it will lower the amount of weight you will need to lift.
- Jumping jacks – It’s so underrated exercise, but it’s great as a cardio exercise, it will stimulate your core and heart muscle. Don’t be negative about how silly it looks.
- Rope jumps – Its purpose is similar to jumping jacks, but it looks more professional and needs more focus and agility.
- Planks – This exercise will help your back strength, it will also help you straighten your spine as a long-term solution, but as a warm-up, it will help your back and abs muscles.
Is stretching after a workout good for your body?
When it comes to more static stretches like simply touching your toes on straight legs, then yes, it’s good for you. Stretching after the workout has a few benefits, but the most important one is to relax your muscles after the workout – After a hard exercise, your muscles are thousands of micro-damaged spots, that will heal and make you stronger after a few days, and stretching will help those tightened muscles to relax. It’s not necessary to stretch after a workout, it hasn’t got many huge benefits, and we will prove it here.
It is a myth that stretching will prevent soreness of your muscles the next day. Stretching to prevent muscle soreness has been debunked many times. The evidence suggests that stretching just after exercise has zero effect on muscle soreness during the next days. So stretching to try and avoid the inevitable painful soreness due to heavy exercise is just a myth, and you have to face the consequences.
There are also currently zero pieces of evidence that stretching will help reduce injuries in activities with high injury chances. Stretching has the main purpose, and it’s to stretch your muscles, even yoga is mainly focused to calm yourself and feeling relaxed. It won’t help you much when it comes to increasing the performance or size of your muscles. There is another common myth “Stretching clears out your lactic acid” – Athletes have tried many things to speed up their body recoveries like cryotherapy, compression, massage, compression, ice water immersion, hyperbaric oxygen, electro-stimulation, anti-inflammatories, and course stretching that’s just a few of them.
These interventions are aimed at decreasing, inflammatory markers, and lactic acid which helps to increase the intensity of exercise. Of these, only massage is consistently effective. Multiple studies have shown that stretching does not aid significantly in serving in any capacity to accelerate muscle recovery.
Should I do something after a workout?
Yes! You can replace stretching with other things. They are better because. They will help you gradually reduce your heart rate and begin the process of recovery.
What does “static stretching” means and what should It look like?
There are a lot of types of stretching like “dynamic stretching”, “ballistic stretching” and the most common one “static stretching”. You should be familiar with static stretching because that’s what we were taught in schools. As a simple answer, that is the type of stretching a muscle to near its furthest point when it’s starting to hurt a bit, then holding that position for 15 or 30 seconds.
As examples of static stretching, we can provide “Cobra pose”, “Head-to-knee forward bend”, or “Overhead triceps stretch”. Yoga is also based on static stretching. After a few sessions, you will notice that your body is more flexible and capable to bend even further. Also, static stretching is documented as the fastest to see any results, it’s the oldest type of all stretches.
In Summary – stretching before or after a workout?
Injuries are common exercises, and we should do everything to prevent them. I myself gave up on stretching in my workout routine, replaced it with a normal warm-up, and lowered the intensity of exercises when my routine is almost done. But I did not stop stretching, I still do love it, but I do it in a totally different way, mostly when I do my household duties, I can see many opportunities to quickly stretch.
As we said above, stretching after a workout is not necessary for your exercise routine, you should only avoid stretching before any workout. Don’t get us wrong, stretching is a good exercise, but its purpose is different. There is a lot of fake information, based on our school education programs, but most recent studies have shown us that you should separate gym workouts from stretching.
How often should I stretch?
The answer depends on your goals. If you’re looking to improve your flexibility, you should stretch at least 3 times a week for 30 seconds each time. If you’re just trying to maintain your flexibility, 2-3 times a week should suffice.
What are the benefits of stretching?
Regular stretching can improve your range of motion, increase your flexibility and reduce your risk of injuries. Stretching can also help relieve muscle soreness and tension, improve your posture and alleviate stress. In addition, stretching can boost your energy levels, improve your circulation and promote better sleep.
What are the best stretches to do?
One stretch that is great for flexibility is the calf stretch. To do this stretch, stand with your feet together and your hands on your hips. Bend one leg back and grab your foot with your hand. Gently pull on your foot until you feel a stretch in your calf muscle. Hold this position for 30 seconds before switching legs.
Another good stretch to do is the hamstring stretch. To do this stretch, sit on the ground with both legs extended straight in front of you. Reach forward and try to touch your toes. If you can’t reach them, just go as far as you can without pain.