Stretching…Before or After Your Workout?
If there’s one thing most people still have questions about, it’s knowing when to stretch.
When exactly am I supposed to stretch? Do I stretch before the workout? After the workout? During the workout?
Am I going to injure myself if I stretch my muscles when they’re cold? What if I don’t stretch at all? What happens then?
Here’s what we think.
Stretch whenever you want.
Before the workout. After the workout. During the workout. In the middle of the night when you get up to use the bathroom. At your desk in the middle of the work day. Stretch whenever you want.
The important thing is that you’re stretching.
With that being said, there are better times to stretch.
First, what is stretching?
When we say stretching we mean the static kind. Like where you hold a stretch on one side for 2 minutes and then switch and do the same thing on the other side for 2 minutes. That’s what we mean by stretching.
And stretching is a good thing. It’s a great thing actually. No matter when you do it.
So when exactly should you stretch?
The truth is that you can stretch before a workout. There are plenty of benefits to improving your mobility immediately before a workout. And you’re not going to tear a quad muscle just because you stretched your hips for 60 seconds before you started squatting.
But there are better times for stretching.
Before a workout, your best stretching options are dynamic stretches. Movement-based stretches. Things like arm circles, leg swings, and butt kicks. Stretches that move your joints through their entire range of motion.
This is by far the best way to warm your body up for a workout.
And the best time for static stretching? When you’re already warm. That could be after you go through your 10-15 minute dynamic warmup. Or it could be after you finish your workout.
Either one works.
But we like ending our CrossFit classes, and PT sessions, with a static stretch.
After the workout is complete, the class takes a few minutes to cool down, and then we lead the class through a specific stretch for that day.
This ensures that we’re stretching a new muscle each day (and not skipping anything.) And gives us a chance to immediately start the recovery process from the workout.
In the end, there is no bad time to stretch. Stretch whenever you feel the need. In the morning. Before a workout. After a workout. Or all throughout the day.
But if you’re looking to maximize the benefits of static stretching then aim to stretch when your body’s already warmed up. And that’s usually immediately following your workout.