Tuesday, May 8, 2012

When is the best time to stretch?

Should you stretch before exercise? or after? This has been debated quite a bit in the research lately. The best evidence to date indicates that stretching before exercise (especially before your warmed up) is not recommended. Don't confuse this statement with properly warming up before exercise. For sure a proper warm-up is supported by research.

So what is best?
The general consciences seems to be that one should begin to warm-up with cardiovascular type exercises similar to your given activity ex. walking before running. Then add in some simple dynamic movements of the body to limber up the most important limbs/joints and muscles to be used in your given activity. A few sprints and drills would also be a good idea especially if you are warming up to do some intense exercise or a race. Finally after your work out is finished it would be a great time to cool down slowly and follow that with a series of slow static/or yoga type stretches.

An example for someone warming up to do a fast 10 km run.
I would suggest that you start by walking briskly for 5 minutes, followed then by some dynamic movements involving the hips, knees, ankles, arms, and shoulders etc.. followed then by some light running drills for 5 minutes i.e. "A's", "B's" etc... followed then by some short 10 - 20 sec moderate sprints. All this needs to be done before actually starting your 10 km run. Of course I would suggest a slow walk to cool down after your run workout, followed then by a good static stretching routine. Sounds like a lot of warm-up? Perhaps overkill? Lance Armstrong has been know to warm-up for over 1 hour before his intense time trial stages of the Tour. A proper warm-up will protect you from injury and increase your performance. So warm-up and have a great workout.

Happy Trails
Dr. Bill Cameron

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