This is a controversial subject to say the least! Some health professionals believe it is a must, some believe that it does more harm than good. I personally believe that it is a personal thing and if you’re in touch with what your body needs, you will know that some days you might require a stretch before undertaking exercise and some days you may not, you may even just feel you need to stretch certain muscle groups, but not all. Let me explain briefly the arguments for and against and then you can make up your own mind.
After warming up the body it can be good to quickly (7-10 seconds per stretch) take your muscles through their full range of movement. This increases their length and so you are less likely to strain a muscle when you start to work harder and overload the various muscle groups of the body. It is also psychological for a lot of people, they feel that they have lengthened their muscles and therefore in their mind they are less likely to strain a muscle and they often don’t because of this psychological factor.
The main aim of the warm up is to perform an exercise that is specific for the activity you are about to undertake, increase the blood flow around the body, improve coordination, gently elevate the heart rate and to increase temperature within the muscles. So if you are then stood around stretching for 5 – 10 minutes after your initial warm up, your body temperature and heart rate drop during this time and this could result in your warm up being reversed and you injuring yourself anyway. Also, depending on what type of exercise session you’re preparing for, stretching can actually hinder your performance during your training session. e.g. basic stretching before an explosive sport like sprinting can slow down and decrease your explosive power.
From my experience, I feel that if a person generally has quite tight inflexible muscles, then a 10 minute warm up and very brief pre stretch is a good idea. If you are naturally quite limber, then a good warm up and no pre stretch is often ok and will suffice.
If you have any further questions, please contact me directly(see opposite) via my website, thank you.
Faye believes each body requires a minimum input of a particular essential fitness ingredient, be it: a cleaner diet, clearer mindset, better scheduled training sessions, more relaxation, some functional training or just a general lifestyle tweak or two.