Stretching is an activity where a specific muscle or tendon is intentionally elongated in order to improve one’s joint range of motion, flexibility and muscle control while at the same time reducing ones risk of injury.
Unfortunately, if performed incorrectly, stretching can be dangerous and even detrimental to your performance. There are many different techniques for stretching dependent upon which muscle group is being stretched, some techniques may be ineffective to the point of causing tears, hypermobility, instability or permanent damage to the tendons, ligaments and muscle fibres.
Should You Stretch Before Exercise?
Not necessarily. Numerous studies have found no evidence to support stretching in the prevention of injury, reduction in muscle soreness after exercise nor improvement in athletic performance.
The American College of Sports Medicine has found static stretching before athletic sprint events can even weaken performance. Evidence concludes that holding the stretch tires out your muscles!
You should warm up by doing dynamic stretches, which are like your workout but at a lower intensity. An ideal warm-up before a run could be a brisk walk, walking lunges, or high steps, or "butt kicks"
Start slowly, and gradually ramp up the intensity.
Should You Stretch After Exercise?
This is a great time to stretch.
Everyone is more flexible after exercise due to increased blood flow to the muscles, tendons and joints. This aids the body in recovery and returns muscles back to their pre- exercise length.
Katie Nilan is a podiatrist who is passionate about what she does. She has written for the Australian Women's Health Magazine & was awarded "Pride of professionalism and services to Community Award" by Sydney Rotary. She has represented Australia in 3 sports: swimming, triathlon & surf lifesaving.