Pre-Exercise Stretching Importance

Did you know pre-exercise stretching is generally unnecessary and likely counterproductive?  Most people stretch to prime muscles for the workout to come, but there are some misconceptions that stretching before an activity will prevent injury.

Muscles may actually lose flexibility when they are overworked.  This can create a risk for decreased strength, especially if you are doing weight-bearing activities.  

Most people should consider adding more warm-up routines and cutting back from intensive stretching before exercise.  For example, an exercise that includes light stretching, like jumping jacks, can prepare the body for intensive activity without making the muscles vulnerable to overwork.  Then spend more time on recovery stretching afterwards. 

"If someone is jogging or walking, I recommend a gentle warm-up that takes less than a minute to stretch the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves," says Richard Cotton, the national director of certification at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). "I feel better when I do that, but I wouldn't mandate it for every client. There is value in stretching to increase range of motion and enhance activities of daily life."

Stretching has benefits because when combined with flexibility training it can give people a wider range of motion in their joints.  This can help in daily activities, balance and posture, which are important in preventing falls and injuries as people age.  I can help tailor the amount and type of stretching based on your individual need.