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Stretching before or after training?

When is the right time to stretch and what do you need to watch out for?

Stretching your body can benefit you in many ways. 

What happens during stretching?

During stretching, the structures of the body are deliberately stretched to achieve a longer length in the long run and thus improve mobility. Tit also has shown that stretching improves your joint range of motion, your athletic performance and decreases your risk of injury.

To find out if stretching before or after exercise is better, you should know the differences between the various methods of stretching. 

Active stretching

The muscle (agonist) is brought into a stretching position through muscular work (contraction of the antagonist) and is held there – additional strengthening of the antagonist.

The advantage of the active stretching is that the stretch is taken by a contraction of the antagonists and can contribute to their strengthening. A disadvantage of this stretching method is that not every muscle is responsive to active stretching.

Passive stretching

In passive stretching, the stretching position is taken by external factors or aids, for example with a partner. The advantage of passive stretching is its ease of use. Even beginners can apply the passive stretching method. In addition, every muscle is passively sufficiently stretchable. If you want to know more about the possibilities of passive stretching feel free to ask our stuff at CleverFit Steyr.

Static stretching 

During stretching, the stretch position is slowly taken and held at its maximum for a certain time, usually 30 – 90 seconds. 

Static stretching is a very effective method of achieving long-term flexibility adjustments as the muscles adapt to the new length permanently.

It can be both active and passive. An advantage for beginners is that by slowly adopting the stretch position, muscle stretching reflexes are reduced as much as possible, minimizing the risk of injury.

However, before training, static stretching increases the risk of injury and reduces performance. This can be imagined in the form of a rubber band. In the normal state of tension, a rubber band returns to its normal position after stretching. If you stretch the rubber band unnecessarily long, the normal position adapts and the band loses its basic tension.

Dynamic stretching

By slightly springy movements within a maximum possible reach you stretch the muscle. The movement should be slow, controlled and performed with a relatively small amplitude of movement. It is important that no sweeping or jerky movements are performed.

Dynamic stretching is particularly good at warming up the  muscles of the body and it increases short term mobility. However, it has less impact on the long-term adjustment of mobility.

If you want to stretch before training, you should only stretch your muscles for 5-8 seconds, as prolonged stretching leads to a sharp decrease in muscle tone, which would be counterproductive for your subsequent training.

Since stretching does not lead to a strong energy-related fatigue, nothing stands in the way of a daily stretch training. 

There is no optimal stretching method, because all four stretching methods can improve your flexibility. Choose your stretching method according to your individual needs and goals.

There is no perfect time for stretching. Rather, your individual goal determines whether stretching before or after training is better for you. Just ask our Coaches at CleverFit Steyr if you got any questions regarding to stretching.

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