When I was young the thing to do, what we were taught to do, before exercise was to stretch. Static stretching, moving into a position that stretches the muscle, then hold it for about 30 seconds. The idea was to stretch every muscle in the body, from the top to the bottom or the bottom to the top. This was considered a proper warm-up. This was the correct way to get our bodies ready for exercise. This we were told would prevent injury. Research and knowledge has changed that.
With advances in exercise technology and body knowledge, it is now a popular belief that this type of stretching, static stretching could actual harm the muscles or in the very least keep them from operating at their peak. Some researchers believe that stretching before exercise actually causes the muscle to contract and tire, therefore not perform as efficiently.
A study done by the University of Nevada found that athlete’s muscle strength was decreased by as much as 30%. If a muscles strength is decreased you are either going to be able to do less or injure yourself trying to do more than you muscle is able to do at the time.
So many of us have been taught to warm up this way for so long it is difficult for us to let go and to move on to the correct way to warm up. This type of stretching — static stretch — is best left for the purpose of improving flexibility (and strength in the case of asanas) and is best done after a workout (unless it IS your workout as in the case of a yoga). What type of warm up do you do? Do you stretch before or after a workout?