We are constantly taught and reminded of the importance of stretching, whether that’s stretching pre-workout or, stretching post-work out. We know it is essential for our bodies, to avoid injury and remain supple.

Last week, we took you through the do’s and don’ts of how to stretch – and today we are going to take you through the ‘when to’s, and when NOT to’ stretch!

A common belief is that we should always stretch prior to any physical work outs/ exercises or activities. The reason behind it being, to loosen and prepare your muscles for the extra exertion they are about to experience. However, recent studies caution people away from stretching before workouts, suggesting it actually impedes your body’s performance. According to this research, runners run more slowly, jumpers jump less high, and weight lifters lift significantly less by stretching, without ensuring against injury during their exercise. Not many people know that stretching actually decreases your muscle power by up to 30%! Because of this, anyone looking to engage in a high intensity work out or weight lifting will be decreasing their chance of operating at maximum capacity/performance and ability during their workout.

With that said, let’s go through the reasons why you should NEVER stretch pre-work out!

Stretching is not the same as a warm up.

This is probably the hugest misunderstanding when it comes to preparing yourself for a workout. It’s imperative that you understand that these two routines (stretching vs. warming up) have completely different identities.

Stretching does not prepare your body for exercise.

Stretching actually decreases your heart rate and doesn’t stimulate your nervous system to prepare for the high intensity workout you’re about to take on. A study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows that stretching before you lift weights may leave you weaker and less coordinated during your workout.

Stretching alone, before a workout, might actually increase risk of injury.

According to research in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, stretching doesn’t prepare your muscles for eccentric loading (negative reps), which is when most strains are believed to occur.

Stretching can make you sleepy.

Passive, static stretching has a calming effect that can make you sleepy—not exactly the mood you’re looking for before an intense workout…

What you should do instead:

Perform a full body dynamic warm up. Warming up will prepare all of your systems to ensure that you perform most efficiently in your workout. A good warm up should affect the heart, blood vessels, nervous system, muscles and tendons, along with the joints and ligaments. Additionally, a good warm up will sharpen your reaction time, enhance concentration, improve coordination and regulate your mental and emotional state. The warm up template below is a sure-fire way to ensure that your mind and body will be prepared to take on any workout.

  • 5–10 minutes of aerobic activity (jog, bike, row)
  • 5 minutes of dynamic stretching and mobilitywod work (arm swings, leg swings, lunges, neck rolls, mountain climbers, foam rolling)
  • 5 minute mental prep

By using this template and performing a makeover on your warm up rather than just stretching, here is how you’ll improve your health mentally and physically:

  • The aerobic activity will prepare your cardiovascular system for exercise.
  • The dynamic stretching will not only prepare your joints and ligament for similar movements you’ll be doing in your workout, but it will also raise and maintain body temperature as you enter your workout. (static stretching can drop your temperature).
  • By practicing visualization and including mental prep in your warm up, you’ll not only be laser focused for your workout, but you’ll improve movement efficacy lowering your risk of injury.

HOW TO BOOK:

If you are still unsure of when/how to stretch, book a functional training session with our physio’s. We will assess your biomechanics and teach you how to exercise in a safe and healthy way, based on your personal body type and goals. If you prefer exercising under supervision, then we are more than happy to see you regularly for training at our rehab gym.

If you’re not 100% sure if Physiotherapy is for you, why not book a FREE 15-minute discovery visit?

In this complimentary visit you will have a chance to speak to a physio about your needs/and or condition and they will let you know if physio is right for you.

To book an appointment or a discovery visit, call us on: 0207 636 8845