Available research is inconclusive regarding the optimal time to stretch. In addition, strong evidence is lacking with regard to the beneficial effects associated with pre-exercise stretching (e.g., injury prevention or enhanced athletic performance). In fact, research exists to suggest that stretching prior to an athletic activity may decrease power output resulting in diminished physical performance. Some individuals incorporate stretching at the end of the warm-up period, however this practice can be somewhat counterproductive since stretching during the conclusion of the warm-up will cause a drop in heart rate prior to the start of the conditioning segment of the workout session. Consequently, the most appropriate time to stretch tends to be at the end of a workout session. Stretching at the end as part of the cool-down segment is recommended because it is safer and more effective to stretch muscles that are properly warmed and, therefore, more pliable. Also, it will help to further facilitate post-workout recovery.
Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D., FACSM--Chief Science OfficerContributor
Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D., FACSM, is Chief Science Officer for the American Council on Exercise and represents ACE as a national and international lecturer, writer and expert source. Bryant has written more than 250 articles or columns in fitness trade magazines, as well sports medicine and exercise science journals, and authored, co-authored or edited 30 books. He can often be found as an authoritative resource for fitness and nutrition articles in a variety of respected national outlets including USA Today, Washington Post, The New York Times, Parade, Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek, Reader’s Digest, Consumer Reports, Fox News, CNN Headline News and more. Bryant has held a position on the exercise science faculties at several prestigious institutions, including the United States Military Academy at West Point and Pennsylvania State University, and earned both his doctorate in physiology and master’s degree in exercise science from Pennsylvania State University.
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