Last week we voted on my 'When is the best time to stretch?' Poll and a few things were found:
The majority of voters think stretching is best after the workout
You would rather vote on anything, but stretching
40%after the workout
33% Before you begin exercising
20% Between each set of repetitions
6% To sneak a peak at the attractive guy/girl nearby
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If you only had one given time to stretch, I would recommend AFTER the workout. Congrats to those who chose that answer! Here's why...
When we exercise our muscles are working. Muscles work in a wide variety of ways, but primarily by contracting and relaxing. When a muscle contracts the length of the muscle shortens. Over the course of a workout, your muscles involved contract to produce force and will become slightly tighter and shorter than how they started. Its important for us to restore this original length of the muscle tissue after the workout before throwing in the towel.
If I can't convince you to stretch, I bet she can!
Post-workout stretching guidelines:
At a minimum:
Stretch all the muscles involved in your workout
Do each stretch twice
Hold at a the point of stretch for 30 seconds
Should not feel more intense than a 4 out of 5 on a pain scale
Make sure you breathe deeply through your stretches
Use any piece of equipment to help (stability ball, stretching stations, yoga straps)