Should I Stretch Before or After My Workout?

fit man stretching while working out

Stretching is an important step in making sure that you have a fulfilling workout. Stretching has many benefits for our physical wellness and helps prevent overuse injuries and mentally prepares us for an engaging workout. But a common question asked within the fitness community is when during a workout is the best time for stretching. Which is most effective: stretching before or after workouts? Like most topics concerning physical fitness, there is no simple answer that will hold true for everyone. There are numerous types of stretches, which include:

  • Dynamic Stretching: Stretches that mimic motions used within a workout.
  • Static Stretching: Stationary stretches that require holding stretches for a short duration. 
  • Ballistic Stretching: Stretches that involve a bouncing movement to engage muscle groups.

Stretching before or after your workout should depend on your personal fitness goals and preferences for your workout. Let’s dive into the benefits of stretching before and the benefits of stretching after workouts. 

Should I Stretch Before a Workout?

A huge reason why stretching before a workout is beneficial is because stretching prevents us from being thrown into a workout session without being warmed up. Some studies suggest that performing dynamic stretches before a workout has many benefits.

Benefits of Stretching Before a Workout

  • Support Blood Flow: When you stretch before a workout you’re moving your body and increasing your heart rate which supports healthy blood flow during the workout. 
  • Increase Range of Motion and Flexibility: Stretching prior to a workout gets your muscles ready for strenuous activity and can help support proper form. 

Potential Performance Improvement: Naturally, when you have strong blood flow and are ready to give your workout your best effort, your performance levels will increase.

sweaty person mid-workout

Should I Stretch After a Workout?

There are benefits to stretching after a workout as well. It can be more difficult to find the drive to do so if you’re worn out, however, should you stretch after a workout, there are numerous benefits.

Benefits of Stretching After a Workout

  • Can Reduce Muscle Pain: We all know how it feels to wake up sore the morning after an intense workout. Stretching after a workout can help alleviate some of this muscle pain. 
  • Reduce Stiffness: In the same way that dynamic stretches can help flexibility, static stretching exercises can prevent muscle stiffness after an intense workout. 
  • Can Reduce Injuries: There’s nothing worse than a fitness regime being set back by overuse injuries. Stretching after a workout can prepare your body for the stationary movements of the day to prevent injuries.

Stretching Before or After Workouts: What to Know

In the simplest terms, stretching is always crucial but the timing of when we stretch is less imperative to our workout’s success. You should mainly focus on doing specific stretches for certain points in the workout. There are many benefits of stretching after a workout and before a workout that will provide varying experiences dependent on the types of stretches performed. As a general rule of thumb, stretching before or after workouts are both great ideas to maximize your fitness performance and get a well-rounded, safe routine going.