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Pre and post workout stretching: why is it important?

girl stretching legs

Stretching helps muscles relax and lengthen, making them more elastic and making movement easier.

Stretching is important not only in everyday life, for example during the lunch break or after sitting in the car for a long time, but also before and after a sports training session in the gym.

Those who practice physical activity constantly or occasionally know how easy it is to find themselves, at the end of training, with more or less intense muscle pain . Furthermore, sometimes, especially in the absence of correct pre-workout preparation, problems may arise. In these cases, it is very important to know how to treat a muscle strain or tear, in order to avoid worsening it and recover as soon as possible.

Pre and post workout stretching , together with a short cardiofitness warm-up session, helps prevent the onset of pain and reduce the aforementioned risks.

girl stretching legs

What is stretching

Stretching ” is a term of English origin, deriving from the verb “to stretch”, i.e. “to lengthen”. Stretching literally means lengthening the muscles through specific movements that allow, at the same time, to make the joints more mobile.

Through stretching exercises, it is possible to increase the range of movements , obtaining greater joint elasticity and loosening up the muscles.

This activity is divided into different types, each characterized by specific movements. In particular, it is possible to recognize stretching:

  • static : the best-known stretching method, also applicable in pre-workout, but especially ideal for the post-workout phase, consists in slowly stretching the muscle until it reaches its maximum point, which must not cause pain, and in maintaining the position for about 30 seconds;
  • static active : this type involves the execution of large movements which require, to maintain the position, the contraction of the muscles antagonistic to the one being stretched;
  • dynamic : used in particular in the pre-workout phase, dynamic stretching involves the execution of movements that are gradually wider and faster, but always controlled and delicate, which must never exceed the maximum range of motion;
  • ballistic : hardly used before and after training in gyms and sports centres, it consists of stretches and movements which tend to exceed the maximum limits allowed by the joint through sudden jerks.

Others can be added to these basic types, such as the CRS (Contract Relax Stretching) and the CRAC (Contract Relax Antagonist Contract), mainly used in the rehabilitation field and not before and after training.

Usefulness of stretching before and after training

Stretching before a workout , during or immediately after a warm-up helps to:

  • increase the range of motion allowed by the joint;
  • relax muscles and reduce stiffness;
  • reduce the risk of strains and tears ;
  • Improve sports performance .

Performing stretching exercises after training helps instead to keep the muscles elastic and reduce contractures , limiting the appearance of painful conditions and speeding up recovery.

To obtain these results, 5 to 10 minutes of exercises are sufficient, before and after training sessions. To maintain good joint mobility, it is also advisable to do some stretching even during the day , away from training sessions.

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