If you’re a seasoned athlete or participating in sports for the first time you’ve probably been told that it’s important to do a pre- and post-exercise stretch, but never why. Stretching is very important to avoid sports injuries. Don’t think you’ll have time to implement stretching? You only need 5-10 minutes total, for both pre- and post-exercise stretching.
There are studies and people who do not see the importance of stretching before exercise. They believe that (static) stretching before you lift weights can make you feel weak and unstable during workout. “Still, rather than abandon stretching altogether, recent trends suggest that a technique called “active isolated stretching” might protect athletes from injuries better than traditional bend-and-hold techniques.”
Proper stretching gives you flexibility by increasing the length of your muscles and tendons. It helps you increase your range of movement, which will allow your limbs and joints the ability to move further before an injury occurs. Another benefit of regular stretching is that it helps prevent muscular imbalance. During exercise many people focus more on one side of the body which causes muscles to overcompensate for others. Regular stretching helps lengthen any tight and overused muscles, while strengthening the underused ones.
During stretching remember to:
- Never use bouncing motions during stretching to avoid a strain or muscle damage. Instead, take your time and move slowly from one body part to the other.
- Hold your stretch position for at least 30 seconds to one minute. The longer you hold the stretch the more your body and muscles will benefit.
- Be sure to stretch all of your body parts from head to toe but do not overstretch because that can cause injury.
At the end of your activity remember to cool down to help reduce stiffness, return your heart rate and blood flow to normal and relax your muscles.
- Mattes, A. 2013, April 3). A good reason to skip your pre-workout stretch. Retrieved from
Medical Disclaimer: Be sure to check with your physician before starting a new exercise routine or if you have any health care-related questions.