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|Stretch Before or After Exercise?|
| There's been a lot of discussion lately about the best time to stretch. Ultimately, there's no right or wrong here. What works for you works for you.
The main point is to be sure to stretch.
Recent exercise physiology studies do show that static stretching (slow, easy stretching) actually reduces muscular power and strength in the short-term. So, for competitive, high-level athletes, static stretching is best done AFTER exercise.
For people in their thirties and beyond, many of whom have had back issues at some time, it may still be a very good idea to do static stretching before exercise. The primary value here is to prepare the muscles, ligaments, and joints of the lower back for work. Static stretching of the big muscles of the legs - the hamstrings, calves, and quads - reflexively loosens and elongates lower back muscles and supporting structures.
So, for many of us, doing our regular stretching routine first, followed by five or ten minutes of a dynamic warm-up, is still the best preparation for a safe, enjoyable, fulfilling workout.
1Ferreira GN, et al: Gains in flexibility related to measures of muscular performance. Clin J Sport Med 17(4):276-281, 2007.
2Peeler J, Anderson JE: Effectiveness of static quadriceps stretching in individuals with patellofemoral joint pain. Clin J Sport Med 17(4):234-241, 2007.
3Behm DG, et al: Effect of acute static stretching on force, balance, reaction time, and movement time. Med Sci Sports Exercise (36(8):1397-1402, 2004.
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