At Reza Chiropractic in St. Petersburg, we are committed to offering our patients the accessible, affordable, and most importantly, useful health assistance possible. Because we specialize in sports injuries, among other things, one of the most frequently asked questions we hear is whether or not an athlete should be stretching before or after their workout. And understandably so—since there is a lot of confusing and contradicting information out there, with seemingly no real clear, definitive answer. We want to take a minute to break down the myths about stretching and working out, how it can (and can’t) help your workouts, and whether or not you need to adjust your regular regime.
Since we were kids, we have generally been told that we should stretch before working out to prevent injuries (poster example being to bend down to try and touch your toes, etc.). More recently, however, waves of contradicting advice have surfaced—advising athletes, runners especially, to hold off on stretching until they are done with their workout, with some outliers even arguing you can ditch it altogether. So… which is it?
Stretching vs. Warming Up
At Reza Chiropractic, we have learned that a common mistake people make is assuming stretching counts as “warming up.” However, the two are not one in the same.
There is no scientific evidence to support the idea that static stretching will improve an athlete’s performance, nor will it prevent them from getting hurt. In fact, some studies have even argued that it can be detrimental. Many stretches can actually cause your muscles to tighten, not loosen and relax. Warm ups, on the other hand, can help prevent injury by increasing your range of motion.
We always make it a point to remind Reza Chiropractic patients in St. Petersburg that your body’s range of motion is more critical to performance than flexibility is. Warm ups help stimulate your body and prepare your muscles for what is about to come in your workout, as well as lubricate your joints.
- Static stretching is the kind you do when your muscles are resting. It would be counterproductive to warm up, then let your body rest while you stretch pre-workout.
- Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, involves a little more activity, and less of the reaching-for-your-toes kind of moves. Some examples of dynamic stretches are butt kicks, high-knees, or lunges. They increase your heart rate, raise body temperature, and stimulate circulation by increasing oxygen and blood flow.
So, to put it simply, the best thing you can do pre-workout is warm up exercises to activate the muscles and joints you will be using most during the workout. And the best time to stretch is after a workout, after you have done a cool down exercise. This is when your muscles are warm and lubricated, so the stretches will be more beneficial.
If you are suffering from sports injuries or would like a consultation with expert chiropractors in the St. Petersburg area, give us a call today at Reza Chiropractic to book an appointment!