Stretching is a very important part of anyone’s exercise and recovery, but there’s a lot of debate surrounding the best time to stretch and the type of stretching you should do.
Should we stretch before or after we exercise? Should it be dynamic or static? Passive or active? In this blog we dive into the difference between these, and explain what options are the best for you.
Stretching Before Exercise
Research in recent years shows that static stretching before you exercise – that is, holding a stretch in one position for 30-60 seconds – can actually negative affect your entire workout. It has been found to lead to decreased strength and power in the following workout, and doesn’t actually appear to prevent injury or soreness.
Because of this, dynamic stretching is recommended pre-exercise. Dynamic stretching involves moving through your full range of motion to prepare your body for similar movements that may be done in your workout.
Stretching After Your Workout
While static stretching can impede your workout if done beforehand, static stretching after you exercise has many benefits. Your muscles will already be warm and loose from your workout, making it the perfect time to stretch to improve mobility and flexibility.
A mix of both passive and active stretches can be used depending on what you’re looking to improve. Passive stretching uses an external force (e.g. the floor, your body weight) to provide pull/push for the stretch, whereas active stretching involves activating one muscle group to stretch another. If you’re focusing on improving your split for example, you may be more interested in passive stretching, whereas active stretching looks at strengthening muscles to improve range of motion without support.