Stretching before you do any sort of exercise is essential for injury prevention. There is a lot of confusion about just what kind of stretching should be done, how hard they should be performed and just how often we should be stretching while we’re exercising. The fact of the matter is that warm up stretching is only part of the equation for staying injury free, stretching during and after are also just as important.
Warm Up Stretching
Warm up stretching is done to get blood and oxygen flowing freely to the muscles you intend on working. These stretches should be fairly low intensity, as your muscles are no doubt cold and tight. The first one or two stretches should be just enough to get blood flowing, barely exerting any effort whatsoever. Each consecutive stretch should be just a little more intense than the last, while making sure that you’re not trying to push any limits.
Stretches During Exercise
Once you’ve exerted yourself for a bit, whether it be running, stairs, weights, sports, etc. Your muscles will be sufficiently warmed up and loose. While your warm up stretching should be light intensity, you can turn up the effort on stretches performed during exercise.
Really concentrate on trying to lengthen the muscles you’re stretching, as this will help flush lactic acid by increasing blood flow. Lactic acid is the substance that slows your muscles down and makes you slow down during your workout.
After You’re Done
Post-workout stretching is a combination of what you do before your workout and what you do during your exercise. Once you’ve finished exerting yourself; work making the first couple of stretches concentrate on lengthening the muscles and progressively ease up on each set of stretches afterward. This will ensure your muscles don’t lock up and stay limber.