Why you should stretch before and after exercising and how to do it right

Stretching helps to recover the ideal muscle length, which facilitates recovery between workouts and a correct postural balance
It is important to stretch both before and after exercise

Do you usually stretch after exercising? And before doing so? Stretching is necessary both before and after exercise, explains Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, Health Director of Zagros Sports. However, the fact that it fulfills a different function depending on the moment in which we do it makes them different.

The stretches that are done before the exercise should be dynamic, that is, they will be based on continuous and repeated movements and with them we will try, as the expert explains, to gradually gain range of movement. In this case, the “typical” stretches in which a position is held for a certain time (15-30 seconds) should be avoided, as it is advisable, as Rodríguez clarifies, to perform ballistic stretching (with rebound) to activate the fibers of Rapid contraction and raise muscle temperature. Dynamic stretching includes exercises such as strides, kicks, squats, circles of arms … “They will always be done through movements and respecting the postural balance,” he says.

After the exercise it is advisable to perform a static stretch, but without forcing the positions much and without holding them for more than 15 seconds. “The goal is to achieve relaxation and muscle rest,” says the coach of Zagros Sports, who insists that it is important not to force the stretch after exercise.

How to stretch correctly

We must forget that “go as far as possible” because, as Rodriguez clarifies, that can cause fibrillar micro-fractures, in addition to eliminating the myotatic reflex, which will cause us to lose strength and speed in the activity. “You have to focus on doing the stretching while maintaining the contraction of the peripheral muscles so that we do not lose control of the exercise”, clarifies the expert, who proposes to keep in mind the image of a sports gymnast (or a sports gymnast): executes his movements with great flexibility, but always maintaining strength throughout your body.

It is also not appropriate to perform strong stretches after a session of vigorous physical activity because, as revealed by the professional of Zagros Sports, when the muscle is very fatigued it responds poorly to stretching and it is possible that we generate fibrillar microcracks.
Differences with heating

Warming up is the process by which the body temperature is raised by improving muscle viscosity, activating energy sources (to avoid oxygen debt) and the joints are lubricated to reach an optimum range of motion, as defined by the physical trainer. At the time of heating we can perform a light aerobic exercise or dynamic stretching. “Although the most popular option is aerobic exercise, stretching is also useful and can be done, depending on the exercise that will be performed afterwards, as a single warm-up or as a complement to aerobic exercise,” explains Rodríguez.

Five stretches to relax

The good thing about stretching is that they can be done at any time of the day. “Ideally, we should be relaxed and have a slight warm-up so that the muscle acquires temperature, since that improves its stretching capacity,” explains the expert at Zagros Sports. Something important is that whether they are active or passive, they should never hurt: “They should be done maintaining muscle balance and never forcing pain.”

The expert proposes these five stretches that you can do at any time, although the ideal is to do them when we are not going to exercise in the short term and looking for a relaxation goal.

1. Circles with the shoulders. Standing, circle your shoulders with your arms stretched forward and back, bringing your hands together above your head.

2. Rotations of trunk. Standing, with your legs separated a little more than the width of the shoulders and with both hands together at chest height, perform a trunk rotation by raising the heel of the opposite leg where the movement goes to be able to turn on the foot and flex the knee. Bring movement from side to side.

3. Hip circles. Standing, with your legs apart at the width of your hips, raise your knee to hip height and from there make a hip opening and then return to the starting position. Practice the exercise both ways.

4. Front kick. Standing, lift your leg straight to hip height (or more)

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