When should I stretch?

Stretching regularly feels good and helps you move better, yet there is debate over how often to stretch and when is the best time. There are a number of factors to consider so we will try and help you understand what’s best for you.

There are two main types of stretching

  • Static stretching; where you hold the position for an extended time
  • Dynamic stretching; where you go through repetitive movements

Regular stretching is proven to:

  • Help widen your range of movement by improving blood circulation, and alleviating muscular tension throughout the body
  • Improve your muscle activation, helping muscles to work more effectively
  • Lubricate the joints for better movement and as you get older, helping to keep them from getting too stiff.
  • Maintain flexibility, making everyday actions such as getting in and out of the car and tying up shoes easier.


How often should I stretch?

Try stretching for 10 minutes at a time 2 or 3 times a week, using a mixture of both dynamic and static stretching, aiming to stay with each motion for about 90 seconds. Bear in mind that consistency is key to seeing results, not quantity.


Should I stretch before exercise?

Stretching before exercise is not the best option. Warming up the muscles with some gentle movements such as walking, before progressing in pace after a few minutes would work better. By warming up in this way, the nerve signals to your muscles are activated, resulting in faster reaction times.

If you would like to stretch before exercise, go for a more dynamic stretch that mimics the range of your chosen activity – such as loosening shoulders to mimic the tennis serve action, or swinging legs back and forth prior to kicking the footy. Pre workout static stretches should be kept to 15 second holds, try alternating sides a few times.


Should I stretch after exercise?

Yes! This is the best time to stretch as the muscles are warm and pliable, and will consequently be less prone to injury or discomfort as the blood is oxygenated and the muscles are less stiff. Remember also that stretching doesn’t reduce muscle soreness post-workout, so if you’re looking to reduce the impact of your workout try an active warm-down instead by slowly reducing the intensity of your exercise.


Can stretching reduce my injury/risk of injury?

Stretching can help ease soft tissue injuries affecting muscles and tendons but has little effect on bone or joint injuries.

While stretching in conjunction with other fitness training and strength-building programs can work to help your body avoid injury by improving its overall function, there is little evidence to suggest stretching alone can help. It is better to invest your time and energy into a well-rounded program of fitness, strength and improving your perception and awareness of your body.


Want to learn more?

You can learn about what type of stretching works for you, and how it can improve your physical fitness with us! We run multiple small groups every week that incorporate dynamic stretching, otherwise we can develop a personalised individual exercise program for you to work on at home.