Is Stretching Necessary?
Is stretching necessary? This is an ongoing debate, and one that involves many, MANY different opinions! Then the next question… do you stretch before or after a warm up… or do you stretch AFTER your workout? Next question… how long do you stretch, and what kind of stretch?
My husband and I have been discussing the necessity of stretching since we switched from P90X to Turbo Fire. Now we both love each of the programs for different reasons, but one thing he noticed is that Tony Horton in P90X focuses a lot more on the stretching aspect of the warm up and cool down. He has some back issues that did not bother him at all with P90X, but did with Turbo Fire. Tonight he started round 2 of P90X and immediately noticed the difference in his back with the longer warmup and stretching before working out. Both programs use balistic and static stretches, just in different ways. For him, the longer warm up and stretching in the beginning of P90X works better. Here is the break down:
Is stretching necessary? Absolutely! The very best way to increase your flexibility is to stretch muscles when they are warm. This also important to avoid injuries.
Do you stretch before or after working out? While both are in place to help prevent injuries, stretching before should be part of the warm to prepare the muscles to work hard…. and gently warming up the muscles before stretching helps even more. Tight, cold muscles are more prone to injury and prevent you from getting the most from your workout. Stretching after your workout not only increases your flexibility as noted above, but helps to cool down your muscles and help you to relax… so do not skip this part!
How long do you stretch, and what kind of stretch should you do? Again, this depends on when you are stretching. Your longest, more static stretches (where you hold a stretch for at least 30 seconds) is better when muscles are warm and helps to increase flexibility. If you warm up your muscles before you start your workout out, you could do them there too. I’m not a fan of ballistic stretching, but if done gently and without quick bouncing, it could be useful. … but I believe it may cause further tightening of muscles.
Now I for one LOVE to stretch! My favorite time is actually after a great workout, when my muscles are nice and warm. I feel the increase in my flexibility and believe this is the best time to achieve this. I actually add additional stretching that are not on the workout DVD’s.
Bottom line… do not skip the warm up or cool down portions of your workouts, and definitely do not skip the stretching! Your muscles will love you for it!
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