Do you need to stretch after a workout?

18.06.19 Learn, Play Blog SumoSalad
Woman stretching outdoors

Are you one of the people who sneaks out of the gym classes before the final stretches? We’ve often been taught that skipping the stretch before and after a workout is an exercise crime. However, if you’re short on time – can you give it a miss? In fact, do you need to stretch after a workout at all? We asked Sydney-based trainer and exercise scientist Sally to weigh in.

Back in the day, my P.E. teacher used to remind us to ‘warm up’ for a practical sport session and ‘warm down’. This mostly consisted of the same thing – stretching. However, is it really necessary?

You may think stretching is a no-brainer. You might have been taught to stretch for years by your local group fitness instructor or read about its benefits on social media. However, there are studies that suggest otherwise. In this 1999 study, the literature does not support stretching to prevent injury. Similarly, a 2005 study found that stretching before exercise does not reduce the rate of injury.

Of course, there’s always the yoga instructor who is super flexible and puts it down to stretching. Well, that may actually be due to their years of specific movement, genetics or hypomobility (joints easily move beyond the normal range of the joint). Don’t fret, some people are just really great at specific movements.

The evidence suggests that stretching may not directly impact your performance, unless you’re a ballerina or gymnast and you need this. However, I would suggest that you complete your stretches at the end of your workout. Not only does it feel good, but it also wraps up your workout and you get to do a little reflection.

If you want to continue to incorporate stretching, try some mobility exercises before a workout and make it specific to what you are doing. For example, if you are getting ready to do a leg session, perform a hip mobility sequence. Here’s my version:

Trigger point or foam rolling is popular, too. However, sometimes it can have an adverse effect if you are doing it too much because you are ‘sore’. This is very individual, if it feels good and you are getting benefit from it, you should do it. I wouldn’t be rushing out to make sure I get every single trigger point done though.

Another factor to consider is the weather. In winter, it might be a good idea to warm up your muscles by getting a light sweat on before pushing yourself a little harder. Also, the time of day can impact you, too. If you train in the morning, you probably haven’t been moving much and you may not be focused. Just like a car, your body naturally needs some time to get going. That’s why strength training is ideally done in the afternoon – however that’s another story!

Sally is the founder of Me Movement, a program that incorporates both movement and mindset training to help clients reach their goals. Sally has over ten years experience in the fitness industry and has a Bachelor of Exercise Science. If you want to learn more about Sally’s program and book in for a ME Consult, visit me-movement.com.au. You can also check out Me Movement on Facebook and Instagram.

POSTED BY: Anthea England

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