MPH Blog

Should I Stretch Before or After a Workout?

When it comes to physical fitness, stretching is a crucial part of the workout routine. Too many athletes and active people neglect stretching, causing themselves undue pain while risking severe injury. However, when it comes to stretching, there are two approaches—pre-workout stretching and post-workout stretching.

The Two Kinds of Stretches

Your body has different needs before and after your workout. To meet those needs, different types of stretching are required. The two main types of stretching are dynamic stretches and static stretches. Dynamic stretches move the joints through their full range of motion, putting them in gentle but thorough motions to prepare them for exertion. It also brings circulation to muscles that will require more oxygen. As a result, this is the best type of stretch for pre-workout routines.

Static stretches are what most people think of when it comes to stretching. They involve flexing and holding, allowing the muscle to fully extend. Static stretching dulls the nervous system temporarily, which cools the body down while preventing overuse and soreness of the muscle. Stretching also resets all the tightened and contracted muscles into a more natural position, allowing you to retain a good posture post-workout.

The Best Time to Stretch (If You Have to Choose)

To be clear, both schools of thought are beneficial. Ideally, athletes will stretch both before and after a workout, giving their bodies the optimal treatment. However, if you have to choose, your body’s need to prepare for a workout is likely more crucial than your post-workout needs.

Dynamic stretching before a workout prevents an athlete from overextending or injuring themselves during a workout. Preparing the joints for exertion prevents ligament tears, tendon ruptures, cramps, and other severe sports injuries.

In contrast, post-workout stretching prevents soreness and stiffness. Though it may be good to avoid soreness whenever possible, soreness is a natural part of building strength. While post-workout stretching is good, stretching before a workout is absolutely vital.

For more information about fitness, health, and other medical questions, feel free to explore the Monterey Park Hospital blog archive!

This article contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis of a physician.

If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.