July 14, 2010, 01:28PM PT in Fit Life |
Is it better to stretch before or after my workout?
Stretching- we’ve been told for years that flexibility training is an important part of a well rounded fitness program, yet it’s the thing most of us neglect when exercising. Some people cite a lack of time, but for many it is the fact that they are just simply not sure how best to stretch, or more importantly, when is best to stretch.
In recent years, research has shown that pre-exercise static stretching (holding a stretch in one position without movement- think elementary school PE class) may actually hinder physical performance. While static stretching does have its benefits, such as improved posture and flexibility, the best time to perform this type of stretching is at the conclusion of a workout during the cool-down phase, as it is best to stretch muscles when they are properly warmed, and therefore more pliable. Examples of static stretches include 90 lat stretch, childs pose, leg crossover stretch and overhead triceps stretch.
Research suggests that beginning your workout with a dynamic warm-up is a safer and more effective way to prepare the body for exercise. Dynamic stretching, which involves active range of motion movements that tend to resemble sport or movement-specific actions, lengthens the fascia (the connective tissue around the muscles), increases core body temperature and functionally prepares the body for the activity to come. Examples of exercises you can incorporate in a dynamic warm-up include bird-dog, bear crawl and dirty dog.
By Jessica Matthews, MS, E-RYT
Jessica is an Exercise Physiologist for the American Council on Exercise and a fitness blogger, writing Weight Watchers, Fitbie and SHAPE. She is an adjunct professor at MiraCosta College, teaching courses in the Department of Kinesiology, Health and Nutrition. She holds a bachelor’s degree in physical education teacher education from Coastal Carolina University and a master’s degree in physical education from Canisius College, as well as two ACE certifications (Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer); she’s also an experienced registered yoga teacher (E-RYT) through Yoga Alliance. Prior to her role at ACE, Matthews was the aquatics director for Conway Medical Wellness and Fitness Center, a hospital-based wellness center. She has also designed curriculum for health and physical education, grades K-12. As an ACE spokesperson and blogger, Matthews has been featured as a fitness expert on CNN and has been quoted in various publications including USA Today and O, The Oprah Magazine.
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