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When should you stretch?

Conscious of my lack of suppleness (I can't touch my toes without bending my knees.. not even close) and have never really been into the old stretching malarkey...

However, its getting to the point know where I think I need to. So when do I do it? Recieved wisdom is never before excercise is that right? So after? Or separate it out completely?

I'm assuming that I'm leaving myself open to injury by not stretching, but be interested to hear what peoples views are and how often people practice.

Happy mondays.


  • hi fd,
    yes this is what i know too, avoid stretching before exersice; the non-scientific explenation i think being that when the muscles are 'cold' you might cause more harm than good by trying to stretch them...stretching post exercise is good because by stretching the muscles when they are full of blood aids recovery - if am not explaining this correctly pls more scientifically informed forum-ers edit and correct as needed!
    if you feel that you lack a good deal of flexibility though it might be an idea to add some yoga or pilates sessions in your regime - i know most triathletes have enough on their plate with 3 dsiciplines already but it could be quite beneficial in my humble opinion...!
  • Static stretches (http://www.brianmac.co.uk/stretch.htm) before exercise are ill advised they do something to your power generation - dynamic stretches (http://www.brianmac.co.uk/dynamic.htm ) however are a good idea after a warmup. Injury prevention seems to be under debate however!
  • Hi there,

    I've no idea what's 'correct'. However I don't stretch beforehand and do a short series of stretches afterwards. I don't get injuries like torn calf muscles etc. That could be simply because of my personal biomechanics or the way I'm made, but it works, so I'm not changing!

    Flexibility - I do Swiss ball exercises about 3-4 times per week after my shortish runs. A couple of months after starting these I noticed that I could touch my toes with ease, and now I am able to place my palms flat on the floor. I have had numerous major abdominal surgeries so I see this as a big triumph. I believe also that the extra strength and flexibility gained has been key to the improvement I have since seen in my running and swimming.

    It remains a very personal thing, however. I do think people respond differently to stretching/strengthening exercises and you probably just need to experiment to find out what suits you best.

    Hope this is some help!

  • I make sure I have a good stretch after every exercise session. Concentrate mainly on legs, and especially calves, as they are always tight. Upper body stretches also, and make sure I've got good movement on shoulders and neck. This covers most of the areas used for Tri. These stretches are done anywhere that as suitable at the time, and of in the gym I also do some stretches and massages on the PowerPlates.

    Once a week throughout the year I do an hours general Body Condtioning class, which envolves a lot of peculiar exercises to strenghen the hips and arse (it's mainly attended by women), and then some lngthy stretches at then end. Apart from my calves, which I've always suffered from, I don't really suffer from any general aches and pains.

    My plan over the late autumn and winter is to start doing yoga and pilates just to generaly tone up, strengthen and improve overall fitness.
  • I started Pilates at the beginning of the summer Dave. Really helped.
  • Pilates?

    You wear those spandex one pieces there boyos?

    My ex did pilates, she could do some funky things
  • Well, we wear one piece lycra suits anyway

    I was hoping for a Pie and Latte though....
  • True that... This is the sport of spandex!

    mmm...i want some apple pie now...
  • BlinkybazBlinkybaz Posts: 1,144
    Dave.....I am back! I can hear the forum sigh in an ironic oh great he's return and we were doing so well without him....................................

    Heres the low down on stretching,

    Do n ot do static stretching if you are cold. The muscles will not be ready for it and you will damage your performance. You should do dynamic stretches which are done by gentle running with high leg lifts and routation of the torso. When you have 5 mins of this then you may static stretch if required. i tend to warm up for 5 then start some shin and quad stretches moving to the ham strings.

    Its all to do with power delivery as coma said. if you stretch cold muscles you will loose around 15-20% power out put ( I read that not sure where)

    As for when and how often, Defo before but as above and most definatly after. If its suppleness you are after then as jon said pilates are a good place to look but I would get some good stretching into your core workout once or twice a week.

    I hope this helps mate!
  • 45CDO45CDO Posts: 44
    I start my session gently, then stop to stretch after about 5 mins, only when I re-start do I start my stop watch. I stretch again at the end of the session.
  • 45CDO45CDO Posts: 44
    BlinkyB' Only saw your note (after I posted).
  • Blinkybaz wrote:
    Dave.....I am back!
    Woohoo! Baz is back, where you been man?

    So, dynamic stretches seem to be the order of the day.Think I'll have to give the pilates a miss, unless I can get the misses involved... Boooooo.

    Will give the 5minutes warm up and stretch a go tonight and try and put aside my self consciousness.

    Thanks for the advice everyone.
  • jibby26jibby26 Posts: 261
    I was in a similar position last christmas, got a book on stretching for runners (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stretching-Runn ... 401&sr=8-1) for xmas. Contains three levels of stretching programmes which build progressively to make you more supple. Explains dynamic and static a bit as well as a few good ones for common injuries. Whilst I've been a bit naughty recently and given up regular stretching there are a few a still do often. I think it's a bargin at £5.99 (or a little less from other amazon sellers).
  • willtriwilltri Posts: 436
    Another vote for the dynamic stretches - but also...

    I've read that stretching after exercise can be bad for you - you've already damaged the muscle by training - microscopic tears etc - any further stretching can aggravate them - i save my stretching for my off days (which there are plenty of at the moment )
  • BlinkybazBlinkybaz Posts: 1,144
    I have been to hell and back! well mexico anyway! OK everyone stop with the swine flu/pig jokes I have always looked like this! And no you dont get crakling on my phone line and yes I have tried the Oinkment1

    I have also been training hard for a half marathon and also found it hard to log on at work when I do most of my foruming!

    The after exercise stretching that willtri talks about be damaging is only if you do the same level of or intensity that you do before. If you stretch after then it should gentle and more relaxing than actully warming muscles. remember as stated your muscle have already done the work and need some TLC to recover but enough to let them know you have finished and they can gently warm down!
  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425
    When running intervals the latest advice from England Athletics (as their liability insurance covers all qualified coaches, several thousand, I would think it is fair to assume they keep on top of best practice) is to structure the session as follows. Many of the points have already been raised:

    Warm Up; 5/10 min jog/run warm up followed by dynamic stretching such as high knees, heel flicks, high strides, cariocas, walking lunges etc, etc, etc. Each dynamic stretch should last approx 20 secs totalling around 5 min including recoveries between each. Result should raised HR, warm muscles, full mobility & ready for work

    Technical; do any technique work now when warm & still fresh

    Main set: Intervals, hills etc. May wish to taylor dynamic stretches to the interval you are doing

    Warm down: 5/10 min jog/run/walk to return your HR & metabolism to normal. Also allows waste metabolites to be flushed out. Follow this by static stretching of the muscle groups used. Each stretch should be 6 to 10 secs long. Don't push to pain only to point of stretch. Contrast baths if you are Elite. Shower, recovery feed & go home.

    Follow the above & you won't go to far wrong.

    For pure endurance runs I generally stretch after.

    I also do a full set of static stretches at least once a week based on Bob Andersons book "Stretching". Use the drills for swimming, running & cycling. The session is usually on a rest or easy day. I find them very useful for maintaining overall flexibility and working on areas of tightness. Also use rollers.

    Perhaps someone could advise on pre & post swim/bike stretching.

    Hope this helps
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