Stretching is widely regarded as a means of improving flexibility and preventing injury, but for many, it's just a dull routine before exercise.
Stretching can be pretty boring, so often people rush through their exercises without really thinking about the reasons behind implementing certain practices before their workout.
But truth be told, it's not just a pointless activity as it can greatly help with recovery and the overall feeling of your muscles.
In this article, we'll give you insight on the types of stretching one can do, as well as WHEN you should do it!
Without further ado, let's get to it!
Types Of Stretching
Stretching is divided into two main categories: Static Stretching and Dynamic Stretching. Each of those can
This type of stretching consists in holding a position for a prolonged period of time to achieve physical flexibility.
Stretches are usually held at the maximum point of tension for 30 seconds, causing muscles to relax. This type of stretching is perfect to do after a workout when you are trying to relax the musculature.
However, you should avoid doing this before a workout and instead, focus on exercises that focus on the opposite side of muscular contraction – the activation!
In contrast to static stretches, dynamic stretches have a natural flow of movement as their main purpose is to prepare the body for activity.
Dynamic Stretching is a type of exercise that moves the muscles and joints through a full range of motion, coordinating multiple muscle groups in order to increase overall flexibility.
Not only does this help with your flexibility, but it also serves as a great warmup before any workout!
When To Stretch?
So now you probably know what types of stretching there are. But do you know when you should stretch? Stretching can be done at almost any time, but you should keep certain factors in mind.
Here's our list (in no particular order):
1. Before a workout
Contrary to popular belief, static stretches are in fact counterproductive if you do them before your workout. This is simply because static stretching relaxes the musculature and brings the feeling of relaxation.
Of course, this is counterproductive to an intense workout, where the goal is to progressively recruit and activate more and more muscle fibers.
If you do stretching before a workout, make sure to do dynamic stretching, rather than static stretching.
Dynamic stretching, as mentioned previously, is perfect for muscle activation, thus preparing the musculature for the workout ahead.
2. After a workout
During intense workouts, we heavily engage the muscle fibers and the nervous system. With time, the connective tissue (called the 'fascia' ) that covers all muscles gets tense, and that tension needs to be relieved.
If you don't have the chance to get a weekly deep-tissue massage, you can instead rely on post-workout static stretching!
3. On off days
Unsure what to do on your day off? Well, think of the rest of your day as the time when you are actively recovering. Recovery practices such as stretching are perfect to prime your musculature for your next training cycle.
On your next day off, try doing some light cardio for 20-30 minutes, followed by a full-body stretching routine!
Contrary to popular belief, you don't really need to stretch your muscles prior to a heavy workout.
Even more so, this is counter-productive and may increase the chance of injury, besides robbing you of performance.
Flex your muscles before a workout, stretch them after a workout and implement stretching sessions on off days to aid recovery!