What's the deal with stretching prior to working out?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 10, 2009 3:01 PM GMT
    In high school, it was pounded into my skull the importance of stretching prior to a workout while on the track and tennis teams. But more recently I've heard things about how stretching helps with flexibility, which is a great thing, but really doesn't do anything regarding preventing injuries during workouts and sports.

    What's the consensus out there?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 10, 2009 6:01 PM GMT
    I heard you make better flexibility gains by stretching before and after a workout. that is probably due to stretching twice. For me it lets me know my max range of motion because I'm not 100% flexible yet so I know when I do a kick or try to do some other crazy thing I don't go over my bounds. I don't know about lift weights, I could lift more if I didn't stretch first but I never did lift heavy. It's all about the speed and flexibility for me.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 10, 2009 7:11 PM GMT
    I think the benefits of stretching depends on the sport/activity. But here's an interesting article that discusses the difference between stretching and warming up.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/02/sports/playmagazine/112pewarm.html
  • training_guy

    Posts: 271

    Apr 10, 2009 7:26 PM GMT
    warm your muscles up.......less prone to injury.....

    as well as needing strength your muscles also need length,....
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 11, 2009 12:43 PM GMT
    Science says that stretching before exercising does nothing. Very serious studies. All said stretching before does absolutely nothing. But if it feels good, do it.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 11, 2009 1:51 PM GMT
    I liked that article: i enjoy things that confirm what I already think ;)

    dynamic stretches before (I do sun salutations), longer stretches after. There is no point in doing slow stretching before training. none.

    Warm up doesn´t mean 30 mins of cardio. It takes me 5 mins.

    Serious stretching (like yoga) is seriously worth doing, but not before, and it has to be done well or you may as well not bother.

  • somedaytoo

    Posts: 704

    Apr 11, 2009 1:55 PM GMT
    I stretched religouly for 3 months, then stopped. Noticed no difference. Big time saver not stretching and focus more on my workout. Just me, may be different for you.
  • sportsjockla

    Posts: 498

    Apr 11, 2009 2:04 PM GMT
    You are not suppose to stretch before a workout. Think of you muscle as a rubberband. Same sort of texture more or less. When your muscles are cold, it's like taking a rubberband out of the freezer. How easy would it stretch? Put the rubberband over steam and see the difference. That's how your muscles work.

    If you do stretching prior to a workout, do dynamic stretching.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 11, 2009 2:13 PM GMT
    Stretching is big with me prior to every work out. The great coaching staff during my H20-polo days taught all of us (the team) the value of stretching.....so I stay with doing my whole work out the way I learned from those guys. Additionally, stretching makes me feel better - leaner - meaner! My posture is better for it - plus I do my 300 crunches as part of every work out while I'm down there on the floor.

    A great back exercise is lying on the floor - knees bent - and reaching with both hands behind the knee and pulling that leg tight to your gut - holding it 5 seconds - and doing the other leg. Alternate 10 times - then do both legs together - 5 times. This is a great back stretch.....but, I'm preaching to the choir here - you probably all know this one!icon_idea.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 11, 2009 2:41 PM GMT
    I workout 5- 6 days a week for 8 yrs and I never stretch except after Spin. Maybe why I am not so flexible, but I've never had any debilitating injury. I am trying to stretch more in the steam room just to loosen up and relax.
  • slasherOCD

    Posts: 43

    Apr 11, 2009 2:46 PM GMT
    I learned in my orthopedics class that its better to stretch after working out. Stretching before working out loosens the ligament and make it easier to injur them. Instead you should warm up before working out by just going through the ROM or using light weights
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2009 10:34 PM GMT
    Lostboy said
    dynamic stretches before (I do sun salutations), longer stretches after. There is no point in doing slow stretching before training. none.

    Serious stretching (like yoga) is seriously worth doing, but not before, and it has to be done well or you may as well not bother.



    I liked the article, too. A lot actually. And even more so, I like your idea of yoga (Sun Salutations) as a warm up. I've been wondering what I could do as a new warm-up other than spiderman crawls at the gym. I have a brief history with yoga, having read several books and taken a couple classes. When things get to be a bit better for my wallet, I plan on exploring Ashtanga Yoga.

    Thanks for your words.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2009 10:37 PM GMT
    xrichx saidI think the benefits of stretching depends on the sport/activity. But here's an interesting article that discusses the difference between stretching and warming up.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/02/sports/playmagazine/112pewarm.html


    Thanks for the article. It helped and explained a lot of what I have been hearing lately, with some added explanations.

    Much appreciated!
  • EricLA

    Posts: 3461

    Apr 13, 2009 10:45 PM GMT
    Yeah, I don't think there is consensus, but the things I've been reading lately don't seem to show much difference -- it doesn't appear that stretching reduces the chance for injury. I do an 8 minute warm up on the eliptical, then a couple of light stretches.
  • Matia79

    Posts: 215

    Apr 13, 2009 10:50 PM GMT
    Personally, I definitely condone a solid 5-8min cardio warmup (or dynamic stretches). However, I tell my clients to avoid static stretches and present them with this argument.

    The static stretches do nothing to prepare the muscle for upcoming physical labour. In fact, just the opposite.
    It's been argued that doing static stretches before exercise or between sets (stretches where poses are held for 20secs+) can actually set you up for injury. By stretching the muscle you are in fact elongating said muscle and making them more elastic which reduces the stability and functionality of the muscles worked or needed in maintaining your form. Also, in statically stretching the muscle before hand you could be creating minute tears in the fibre which weaken it and you are forced to work with lighter weights. Lighter weights = less work = slower results. (that last part always gets them...lol).

    I also explain that this has yet to be proven 100% but it's a very strong and reasonable recommendation. I personally prefer to avoid static stretching before exercise but leave the decision to them in the long run. I do, however ALWAYS include a minimum of 10minutes of static stretches after a workout. VERY important!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2009 10:52 PM GMT
    EricLA saidYeah, I don't think there is consensus, but the things I've been reading lately don't seem to show much difference -- it doesn't appear that stretching reduces the chance for injury. I do an 8 minute warm up on the eliptical, then a couple of light stretches.


    It seems that what I hear most from orthopedists is do a light warm-up, stretch a bit, work out and then stretch again afterward. I find that I'm less stiff the following day if I follow this routine as opposed to just stretching before or just stretching afterward. BUT, this is only anecdotal evidence. If it means anything, I recently read an article in either the Harvard or Johns Hopkins Health Letter that suggested the same.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 15, 2009 2:52 AM GMT
    Most recent studies show stretching before working out can actually increase your chance of injury.

    Warming up by jumping on the treadmill or stationary bike is not stretching as much as getting your heart rate up and blood pumping.

    Stretching AFTER you work out is very beneficial. Muscles contract or extend to perform repetitions. After a hard workout, stretching helps to the relax the muscle and avoid continued stiffness or tightness.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 15, 2009 3:08 AM GMT
    I'm a firm believer in warming up before exercising and stretching afterwards. Cold and tight muscles can be warmed up and made flexible by stretching but you run the risk of injury. As long as you don't bounce it's hard to injure yourself stretching after exercise.
  • docbailey2005

    Posts: 362

    May 03, 2009 8:07 PM GMT
    Hard to teach an old dog new tricks. til this day i stretch before i lift i've often done cardio prior to lifting just depends on how tight i feel prior to my workout. that article definately has me thinking i should do light cardio instead.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    May 06, 2009 3:23 PM GMT
    Most everything I've read on this lately says that stretching before, or after, workouts, really didn't aid in injury prevention. I'm not sure that I'm fully signed off on that yet. I've read a lot of things over the last 40 years.

    It seems to me that stretching a cold muscle is very unwise, and, almost universally, from what I've read, time, and again, it's not advised for a lay athlete.

    Post workout stretching seems to me to be of some benefit, although, like I've said, stuff I've read lately says otherwise. I don't imagine that it would hurt anything.

    I know that lifting through a full range of motion is critical. I see some folks with just absolutely horrible lifting methods; beyond laughable.

    I think as much as anything balance is key. Agonist, antagonist training.

    I had a trainer advise me to not work my abs so much, so I backed off, and since that, I now get erectors spasms every so often. Pisses me off, so I've been blasting abs again, and the back pain seems to be abating.

    Clearly, you need resistance training through a full range of motion to preserve bone, keep the muscles, and attachments strong and healthy. A purely cardio program is ill-advised, I'd think, too.

    I have some friends that do pilates and swear by it. I used to stretch a lot, but, sometimes, I don't give it priority.

    I know that when I did static stretch a lot, I seemed to, ... I don't know how to describe it...have better lines, feel a bit better.

    Strength studies have shown that a stretched muscle can be up to 30% bigger so I always try to do a full range of motion to get more muscle fullness.

    Like I said, I think balance is key.
  • Brian888

    Posts: 14

    May 06, 2009 3:56 PM GMT
    When beginning your workout, think mobility over flexibility. In other words, warm up the muscle with dynamic stretching (a couple of sets with a very light weight to get the blood into the area) than with static. Stretching is a treat to the muscle and makes it become relaxed and longer. When you're working out, you want the muscles worked to be tight to prevent injury. If you must stretch before hand, stretch the opposing muscle group, though I'm not a big supporter of this. I also seem to recall hearing you can improve your performance of an exercise by up to 20% by stretching the opposing muscle.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    May 06, 2009 4:07 PM GMT
    I'm a runner & basketball player, i stretch 15 mins before & after any workout. It works wonders for me. I actually feel sorry for any individual who does not stretch. The older u get, u will regret it.icon_eek.gif
  • GoodPup

    Posts: 752

    May 07, 2009 5:51 AM GMT
    In my spin class, I do a 5-7 minute warm up... something real light... then stretch.

    The way it was escribed to me is to think of a cold rubber band that you stretch and break... verses a normal rubber band that will stretch easy. So I always think of that when warming up and stretching people out.

    Maybe a bad anaology... but just saying, I think warm up, stretch, workout, stretch during and after.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    May 07, 2009 6:08 AM GMT
    I never stretch before a workout as I read the same study years ago and it make so much sense. I don't stretch right after a workout, either. I usually reserve one, maybe two days a week to stretch my entire body out. When I stretch regularly, separate from a workout, I always find that my muscles feel fuller and more shapely, on top of the obvious gains in flexibility.
  • HotCoach

    Posts: 247

    May 12, 2009 12:19 AM GMT
    I'm with you. Never stretch before or after. Limber up and warm up before. Cool down after sport appropriate.
    Then separate stretching workout whenever. Check out Aaron Mattes" "Active Isolated Stretching" or InnovativeBodySolutions.com. Dara Torres' program. Catch it on YouTube too.

    Stretching has long been misunderstood. Forget what you learned in high school and pay no attention to the guy doing static "stretches" in the gym or in the park.

    Stretching is done incorrectly by 95% of the population. Ab workouts fall into the same range. And let's not forget "hydration". More excess.