Stretching Before Your Workout – Good Or Bad?

What is Stretching?

Stretching is the act of lengthening the muscles to improve your flexibility and thus range of motion. Stretching can help alleviate stiffness in the muscles and across the body. In our practice, we have several techniques that we can use to stretch the muscles, such as static stretching, dynamic stretching, and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). However, talk in the past few years has created this idea that stretching, namely static stretching, before exercising is bad for you. How did this idea come about and is it truthful? Read on to find out more in this article.

Static Stretching – Potentially Bad?

Static stretching is a method of stretching a muscle at its end-range of motion. This is done by applying force and trying to lengthen the muscle beyond its current, resting length in order to temporarily increase its length. Doing so may give you access to more range of motion at a joint. In modern times, people have started to bash the practice of performing static stretches before a warmup, citing that it actually worsens performance rather than improves it. As a result, people have started to eschew it from their programs. Is this act scientifically backed up?

Does Static Stretching Make You Weaker?

A fair amount of evidence points towards higher intensity, static stretching of a muscle for greater than 60 seconds being detrimental to strength and power production on exercises. This suggests that mindlessly incorporating a highly intense (in this case, painful) static stretch before an exercise and not counting the seconds but the pain may cause less work to be done on that exercise. An example of this could be chit chatting while doing a long seated hamstring stretch, and performing Romanian deadlifts afterwards. However, trivial negative effects are seen when the duration is kept below 60 seconds, which suggests that anywhere from 20 seconds to 45 seconds of constant static stretching is unlikely to make you weaker and instead, give you some flexibility benefits.

static stretching hamstring stretch

What Happens If You Do Static Stretching?

Applying static stretching to the muscles you intend to train can help with mobility preparation. Static stretching has positive effects on temporarily increasing muscle length when performed in a warmup, which can allow you to achieve greater range of motion on an exercise. When done over the years, the evidence reliably shows that incorporating static stretching can increase flexibility over your lifetime. This makes it worthwhile to include static stretching strategically into your training program.

Incorporating Stretches Into An Exercise Program

Stretching by itself can and should be counted as an exercise. Many people underestimate how much energy they actually use when they stretch; when overdone, it contributes to decreased performance during a workout. Stretching is usually done before and after a workout.

Stretching Before Exercise

Dynamic stretches are a currently popular and well-supported practice to include during warmups. Most dynamic stretches are essentially the bodyweight or low-load versions of the exercise that people were going to do, which then flows well into the program. Some popular dynamic stretches are the bodyweight lunge and stretch, the rotator cuff dislocates, and running drills such as the butt kicks and high knees. Of course, static stretches done strategically for 20 to 45 seconds can be useful in buying you some mobility if needed.

Post-Workout Stretches

At the end of a workout, when you are at your most fatigued, chances are dynamic stretches are not what you opt for. Instead, you should aim to perform your static stretches while you are cooling down, with the aim of increasing flexibility of the muscles. Static stretches can add fatigue, so it is important that you take note of how much time you do the stretch in order to reap the benefits and not worsen fatigue.

Do Regular Exercises Stretch You Out Already?

An often overlooked aspect of resistance training is the fact that many exercises actually stretch out your muscles well beyond their resting lengths. These exercises often have a very intense eccentric component where the muscle contracts or works actively against the loads while it lengthens. Examples of such exercises that provide a potent stretch are Romanian Deadlifts, Machine Chest Flies, and Preacher Curls. These exercises do stretch you out, but take note, they can be very fatiguing and cause a large amount of soreness if done for too much volume!

Stretch Your Body With The Gym Pod!

If you intend to restore or improve your flexibility, get some assistance with one of our Gym Pod Academy personal trainers. Our personal trainers can help you with incorporating stretching into your exercise program to stretch out those tight muscles, without causing you undue fatigue. If needed, they can help stretch you out at one of the many Gym Pods located in Singapore and worldwide. What are you waiting for, arrange a consultation with our personal trainers now!