Terre Pruitt's Blog

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Stretching BEFORE Workout

Posted by terrepruitt on June 10, 2010

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?

6 Responses to “Stretching BEFORE Workout”

  1. Slamdunk said

    Old habits are difficult to overcome. I force myself to stretch before running–something I used to rarely do. It is just the smart thing to do as I try to age and not fall apart.


    • Yes, old habits are difficult to overcome. New research is always “new” and not easy to embrace. I know that when I first heard that static stretching was not the best thing to do the guy that told me said it “puts your muscles to sleep” and while that might not be entirely accurate it is closer to the fact of what it does than what it was THOUGHT to have done all thise time, I was not quick to embrace it.

      Static stretching does NOT put muscles in a state of readiness. But, since I was taught that for so long it was difficult for me to accept. But it makes sense to me. The thought is to warm up using moves that you will actually be performing in your workout. Sounds good to me.

      Good for you that you keep moving! Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you again.


  2. niachick said

    I love Nia’s way of warming up…moving all the joints…and sometimes I start out with the 5 Stages and/or the 5 Sensations so that students are aware of what flexibility means or what it means to move the spine (which houses the nervous system) or what strength it takes to find stability in a balance pose. By the time the first song or two is over, the body is totally warmed up and ready to get moving!!

    Thanks for the post Terre. Static stretching doesn’t move me.




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