Young women stretching

Do you stretch before and after workouts? On this front I’m the biggest culprit. Isn’t it enough that I have a bunch of exercises to do before we even get to the stretching?

Turns out that while I’m not alone in this thinking, I am wrong in this thinking. We should all be stretching before and after workouts if we’re to make the most of them and avoid injury. Here’s why: 

Before the workout – because it’s not redundant, even if it feels like it is Female Athlete Stretching Outdoors

To warm up your muscles

Warming up your muscles makes sure that less stress is placed on them during the workout. It’s been reported that there are fewer injuries when muscles have been sufficiently warmed up.

To improve flexibility

Whether you’ve noticed it or not, stretching before your workout improves your flexibility during your workout. This is important because it prepares your muscles to move through their full range of motion with ease and minimal discomfort.

To prepare your body

When you warm up with stretching, your heart rate goes up so that more blood and oxygen is flowing to your muscles. This gets your body ready for burning more energy, which puts you in the right place for a great and more effective workout.

After the workout – because getting up and leaving isn’t as good for you as you might think Smiling fitness woman sitting on floor and relaxing after workout. Smiling female at gym taking a break from workout.

To regulate your heart rate and blood flow

Stretching makes sure that the blood flows back into your muscles at a steady, more regulated rate. It brings your heart rate down slowly and revives your muscles as the oxygen and nutrients in the blood circulate.

To reduce soreness and muscle fatigue

Exercising makes your muscles shorter, and produces lactic acid, which makes your muscles tired and sore. Stretching eliminates the lactic acid, and helps to give your muscles back a more natural shape, so that you don’t have to struggle (as much) to climb the stairs after leg day.

To tone up and define your muscles

The more you stretch, the more your muscles will become toned and defined. Long, lean muscles are the product of lots of good stretching, nothing less.

So what about you? Do you stretch before or after your workouts? For how long?

Femi A-Williams is a health and fitness convert trying to reconcile a healthy lifestyle and a happy food life. She is 80% whole grain and 20% donut.

All posts by Femi A-Williams