Do You Do a Before or After Workout Stretching?

Before and After Workout Stretching importance benefits
Photo by Bojan Milinkov

Stretching is an important part of exercising. It warms and flexes our bodies. That is why most personal trainers insist on it before you can start off anything else in the gym. Which is more important, before or after workout stretching? Here we will look at their benefits and will try to give you comparison and tips on each.

Before workout stretching

When someone talks about stretching, that person will most likely be talking about pre-workout stretching. This stretching is sometimes called dynamic or active stretching. This is because it involves a range of movements and its main aim is to warm up our body.

Like a machine, the human body needs to be warmed first to an optimum temperature for maximum performance. The tendons, nerves, and muscles need to be awakened for the intense workout they are about to do. Without stretching, we severely limit the effectiveness of our exercises and increase the chances of injury if we attempt to push our bodies.

Another benefit of stretching before a workout is it releases the strain in our joints. It also works on reducing muscle fatigue. Besides, doing it regularly improves our coordination, makes us more flexible over time and helps to build muscle memory.

When stretching, it is important to know which muscles we plan on exercising because those are the muscles we need to stretch. Simple pre-workout stretches that are a must-do you can try include:

Neck stretch

– Gently try to bring your left ear to your shoulder
– When you feel the right side of your neck is stretched, hold it for 20 seconds
– Bring your head to an upright position
– Repeat the above steps on the other ear
– Do it at least four times

Toe touches

– Stand straight with your feet together
– Keeping your knees straight, bend your waist
– Try to touch your toes with your hands
– Repeat at least four times

Mid back turns

– Stand straight and place your hands on your waist
– Slowly, exhale and twist your upper body to one side along your spine
– Try to go as far as you can until you feel the tension at the centre of your back
– Return to your earlier position
– Repeat on the other side

Here is a video if you’d like to see the exercises in action and grab something new:

After workout stretching

You have performed a gruelling workout. You are tired, sweaty and happy. What next? This is where post-workout stretching comes in. Its main aim is to cool your body down and help it recover much faster after a workout.

One common consequence of intense workout has cramped muscles. This is because as we workout intensely, lactic acid builds up in our muscles which can cause cramps. These cramps can be quite painful. Post-workout stretches help to prevent this by removing the accumulated lactic acid from our muscles.

Our muscles can also contract after a workout and feel tight. If we skip or don’t do the stretching, we may feel sore for a couple of days and our mobility might be limited. Stretching helps our muscles to relax and feel much better afterwards.

When stretching after workout, concentrate on the muscles you worked on. The process should be relaxing. Your muscles should feel good as opposed to straining. Three post-workout stretches you can do include:

Hamstring stretch

– Lay on your back
– Extend one leg straight upwards
– Extend the other leg straight on the floor
– Using your hands, bring your raised leg towards your chest
– Hold it for 20 seconds
– Repeat with the other leg

Extension of the wrist

– Stand straight
– Extend your right arm straight in front at shoulder height
– Using your left hand, grab your right hand just below the fingers
– Pull it towards you to bend the wrist upwards
– Hold for 20 seconds
– Repeat with the other arm

Shoulder stretch

– While standing straight, raise your right arm to your shoulder height
– Use the crook of the other arm to pull it close to your chest
– Hold for 20 seconds
– Repeat with the other arm

One more video for you to grasp the topic better 😉:

Conclusion

So, which one is better? On one hand, pre-workout stretching prepares your body for exercise. It warms it up, awakens the muscles and the nerves. Post-workout stretching, on the other hand, cools your body down and helps in faster recovery. So, you may see that both types are equally important. Each of them performs a different role that is as important as the other.

Recommended for you: Things You Shouldn’t Do Before and After Workout, INCREASE THE EFFICIENCY OF YOUR WORKOUTS!

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