5 Key Stretching Principles You Should Follow
When should I stretch, at the beginning or the end of my workout? Unfortunately, many of the research studies about stretching give confusing information. Some experts believe that stretching should come at the beginning of an exercise routine, and some suggest it at the end. It’s clear that more research is needed, but in the meantime, here are some tips to help you get the most out of your stretching routine.
- Focus on bigger muscle groups: if you are short on time, choose stretches that focus on your largest muscle groups, such as your hamstrings, hip flexors, low back muscles and chest
- Choose stretches that are important for the types of activities you regularly do. For example, cross-country skiers will benefit from stretching their hip flexors, while people who spend their days typing at a keyboard might choose to stretch their forearms. Be sure to ask your physiotherapist if you aren’t sure what stretches are essential for the activities you spend your time doing!
- Consider doing stretching exercises at the end of your exercise routine or when you have already warmed up
- Don’t stretch into pain: to get the most from stretching, you must be able to differentiate between a muscle stretch sensation and pain. This difference can be challenging to understand; if you are confused, ask your physio for help.
- How long should we hold our stretches? Research shows that holding stretches for a long time (60 seconds or so) is probably unnecessary, but there aren’t clear guidelines on the ideal time to hold a stretch. It depends on the individual and the goals of their stretching routine. These goals are another topic for discussion with your physiotherapist.