Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stretch before or after?

While there is no disagreement that you should stretch, there are still two schools of thought on when. Is it best to stretch before or after your run or walk?

The advice from this trainer? If you already have a routine of stretching that works for you... don't change it! If aren't currently in the habit of stretching I recommend doing it immediately after your workout session.

Doing flexibility training after you regular workout can reduce the risk of damaging muscles that is associated with stretching cold muscles before a workout.

That being said, its important to warm up your muscles before doing your training and a slow five to ten minute walk will allow you to get the blood flowing and reduce the risk of injury.

So why stretch at all?

Flexibility training (stretching) gives you a couple of benefits. First, it allows for a greater range of motion about a joint. A greater range of motion means less chance of injury to the joint. When the connecting muscles, tendons and ligaments are too tight, the joint is not free to move in its optimal motion and thus often causes grinding of bone on bone as the joint is pulled out or causes tearing of the tissues surrounding the joint.

The second benefit of stretching is the increased blood-flow to the exercising tissues. Any aerobic exercise requires great amounts of oxygen. The better your body is at delivering blood to your muscles and the connective tissues around your joints, the more oxygen is capable of being delivered and the more efficient the body becomes at utilizing its available energy stores which require oxygen to burn.

All of that put together simply means... stretch! If you're set in your ways and stretching before you run, keep it up. If you haven't been stretching, get a good warm up beforehand and stretch afterwards.

Stretch! You'll be glad you did.

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