So you are likely wondering when is the best time to stretch?
The short answer for someone without injuries is: pretty much anytime.
The long answer has more information so you can get the most out of your stretching.
Stretch After Exercise
Stretching when your muscle are already warm after exercise is a great way to increase your flexibility. A warm muscle is more pliable, relaxed, and has a greater range of motion so it can help increase the depth of your stretches. People notice this phenomenon in hot yoga classes where the heat helps the muscles to relax and they can find a much deeper stretch.
Stretching During Workouts
A common recommendation is to stretch after exercise, but what about during a workout? At Concentric Fit, we like to make our rest of 1-2 minutes between exercises or sets efficient by using that time to stretch. This can help make the workout more effective by opening up tight muscles and creating better movement patterns and better contraction of those muscles. Plus, it’s always a welcome break during a tough workout.
Stretching While Netflix-ing
Stretching during or after designated exercise time is great but there is no problem with getting a solid 5-10 minutes of stretching while watching your favorite show, listening to an interesting podcast, or waiting for your dinner to finish heating up. It is a great way to unwind, to open up tight or restrictive places in the body, and to move more freely.
How long should you stretch for?
Most experts say holding a stretch for 15-30 seconds is enough to have an effect. Going over two minutes in a stretch may be detrimental in a workout as it may cause too much stretch or looseness in the muscle when it needs to contracted for a lift. For most, we notice the sweet spot in the 20-60 second range, with the typically stiff and large muscle groups like hips and back benefiting from the longer side of that range.
What kind of stretch is best?
Both types of stretching static, holding a stretch into it furthest range, and dynamic, stretching while moving, have their benefits and both will help you to improve your flexibility.
Why is stretching important?
After all this talk on how to stretch, why the heck is it even important to make it part of your routine? For every person that stays in one or two positions for long periods of the day, stretching (and mobility work) will prevent you from losing your range of motion. For example, ankle inflexibility can actually limit a person’s squat depth. Stretching the ankle and and calf may be the thing someone needs to have a perfect squat, which improves everything from athleticism to playing with your kids on the floor to doing every day chores around the house. Also, some people’s issues with pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion can be remedied with a proper stretching routine. We experience life through our bodies. The more we remove limits and make the body a place we want to spend time in, the better quality and experience of life we will have.
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