Do you often wonder if it is best to stretch before or after a workout, how long you should hold your stretches and is it OK that it hurts a bit? You have come to the right place! We are going to explain to you all of the secrets of stretching well.
Before or after a workout, stretching has many benefits:
- Before a session or a competition (after general or isolated stretching), it allows you to have better mobility, a greater range of motion for your joints and muscles, and it ensures that your muscles are more ready for your workouts.
- After a session or a competition, stretching provides better replacement of muscle fibres in the resting position, effective overall recovery, improved muscle oxygenation, maintenance of joint mobility, better range of motion for muscles and joints and better sleep as the body and chains of muscles are relaxed.
Specifically, what are the ways that you should stretch out particular muscles ?
There are several kinds of stretches—passive and dynamic. Several time periods for stretching, short or long. And also several methods, including 'contract, release, stretch'.
At the end of a warm-up you should emphasise 'contract, release, stretch'. In this way, you contract a muscle for six seconds, you relax it for two seconds and then you stretch for six seconds. You must not hold stretches done before a session for more than 10 seconds.
At the end of a session or a competition, passive stretching (using gravity only) that lasts between 15 and 30 seconds is enough.
If performed properly, stretching's benefits are proven both in terms of performance and for reducing the risk of injury. These are the best reasons why you shouldn't skip it!