Stretching is a vital part of exercising that is easily overlooked by both athletes and non-athletes alike. Stretching helps to keep your muscles flexible, healthy and strong. Without stretching, your muscles can shorten and become tight, which can result in injuries such as muscle pain, strains, and tears.
Michael Cox is the Director of Physical Therapy at OrthoTexas’ Carrollton location. Cox is frequently asked questions about, “When is the best time to stretch? Before or after working out?” Cox states that the best time to stretch is neither before nor after your workout but he recommends, “stretching after you’ve warmed up.” Cox advises that any stretching is good to do for your overall physical fitness. It can help increase one’s range of motion in their joints and help their overall athletic performance. Frequent stretching along with proper technique can lead to enhanced and improved results.
Cox recommends that you warm up for 10-15 minutes at the start of a workout session. An example of this could be a jog on the treadmill, using an elliptical or riding a stationary bike. After you have completed a warm up, he suggests performing a combination of static and dynamic stretching.
Static stretches are simply where you extend your muscle to its full range of motion then hold that stretch in that position for about 15-30 seconds.
Dynamic stretching involves active movement that pushes your body through a full range of motion. Examples of dynamic stretching include high knees and butt kickers. With high knees, you will bring each individual knee up level with your hips at a 90-degree angle while moving forward 10-15 yards. Butt kickers are where you will simply start jogging in place or jog over a distance while bringing your heels all the way to your backside.
Stretching is vital for everyone in order to promote healthy, flexible, and strong muscles.
“Research shows that any type of stretching is good,” says Cox, “after you have warmed up, which could classify as a 10-15 minute walk or moderate paced movement, then you should start your stretching.”
If you have an injury, please consult with your doctor or physical therapists before attempting the exercises stated above. These exercises are not to be performed if you are injured.