Should you stretch before and after exercise?

Should you stretch before and after exercise?

Let’s not stretch the truth – nobody really knows whether stretching should be common practice before and after a workout. There are some that do, and some that don’t!

The stretch or not-to-stretch debate continues between fitness enthusiasts as there is still no concrete evidence that categorically proves whether stretching is beneficial for performance.

Trials have shown that stretching improves flexibility in the muscle briefly but pretty much soon after you stop the stretching, the flex levels go back to normal again.

There is a lot of talk about how stretching can prevent injury but again the studies have mixed results. Some suggest that stretching may improve the range of motion in your joints, which in turn may help improve your athletic performance and decrease your risk of injury, but other studies have shown a slight decrease in performance when athletes stretch before a sprint event.

All these mixed messages make it difficult to know what to do for the best, however it means if you are used to stretching and feel that it benefits you, then there’s no reason to stop.

It also means that if you’re not stretching, then you’re probably not causing your body too many problems.

Sometimes the act of stretching can make you feel that you’re easing a tight muscle, and certainly the practice of stretching regularly over time can make you more flexible.

Stretching warms up the muscles, which can certainly help on a cold day so you don’t shock your muscles before exercise.

Ultimately, it’s your choice. Stretch, or no stretch.


The Author

Laura Briggs

Laura loves running, Pilates and Yoga, and is forever trying to find the time to fit these activities into her life around a busy family. When she's got time to herself you might find her knitting, or in the kitchen trying out an elaborate recipe - healthy of course!.


Sasha B.
1 October 2015

Sasha B.

Personally I always do a few yoga stretches every morning before I run or go to the gym. But I don't tend to do any if I exercise later in the day. Very interesting to know that might not matter anyway though!

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