A question that we often get is “when should I stretch and for how long?”. This is a great question, because there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on the individual and their goals. For example, a 15 year old gymnast has different goals and external demands compared to a 54 year old cyclist. A track hurdler will require a bit more hip mobility than a tennis player. The comparisons could go on and on, but you get the idea.  So, let’s break down the purpose of stretching and how to properly do it, then you can determine how to best incorporate it into your life. 

Why should I stretch in the first place?

The main reason someone would want to stretch is to increase the range of motion of a particular body joint or region. Restricted motion in one area can feed into compensatory motions in adjacent areas, which can lead to overuse injury.  A good example of this is limited calf and achilles motion resulting in excessive strain placed on the bottom of the foot, which is being overly stretched to make up for the limited ankle flexion while walking, running, jumping, and navigating stairs. This can lead to a condition that many are familiar with, known as plantar fasciitis.  This is just one example, though the principles can be applied to the entire body. 

Should I stretch before or after activity?

Static stretching is best when performed on warmed-up tissue, so stretching after activity is what we recommend. Prior to activity, we recommend doing more of a dynamic stretching warmup to prepare the tissue and body for the stressful demands of that activity. This is a type of stretching that better prepares the body for the demands of running & jumping. Its primary function is to elongate tissue actively and repeatedly through the available range of motion in a controlled movement. We prefer this type of stretching over static stretching.

The bottom line

Will stretching have a dramatic effect on your body’s ability to perform or recover? Likely no more than other forms of dynamic activity. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Sometimes stretching just feels good. Check out the video below for some common stretches that can be performed to help commonly restricted tissues feel better.

Other Blogs

Pickleball Injury Prevention

Pickleball Injury Prevention

The growth and popularity of pickleball has skyrocketed over the past 5-10 years - currently the fastest growing sport. Although the game was developed in 1965, pickleball has gained immense popularity in recent years, captivating players of all ages and skill levels....

Choose The Right Running Shoe

Choose The Right Running Shoe

As running continues to grow in popularity, so does the market for running shoes. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right pair of running shoes for your specific needs. It’s important to get yourself in the proper footwear before...

Common Injuries Runners Face

Common Injuries Runners Face

Continuing on with the runner series and following up from the previous message - running is NOT bad for your knees. To be clear, we understand that there is inherent risk with all activities, and running is no different. And although running can be very beneficial,...

Stress Can Increase Pain

Stress Can Increase Pain

Stress is a common human experience, and it’s not always a bad thing. The stress you feel when giving a big speech, or when being chased by a lion, is there by design. It’s there to help you succeed. However, chronic levels of stress can be problematic. Research has...

Deadlift – The Greatest Functional Lift?

Deadlift – The Greatest Functional Lift?

When it comes to functional exercises, there are few that can rival the deadlift in terms of its benefits. In fact, many experts consider the deadlift to be the best functional exercise out there, and for good reason. The deadlift is a compound exercise that targets...

Joint Manipulation 

Joint Manipulation 

Joint manipulation is a hands-on technique used in physical therapy to relieve pain and improve mobility. This is achieved by applying a quick, controlled force to a specific joint or group of joints in the body. The purpose is to provide a temporary alleviation of...

Ankle Sprain

Ankle Sprain

High Versus Low Ankle Sprain This week we witnessed an amazing performance by the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII, and one of the top story lines was the ankle injury that our franchise quarterback was battling for nearly 1 month!  Since the injury occurred,...

Ice vs Heat

Ice vs Heat

Should you ice or heat? The question has been posed on many occasions.. “Should I use ice or heat on it?” Well, that depends on what “it” is, and what the goal is. If temporary pain reduction is the goal, then both ice and heat will work in a similar manner - by...

Why Are You Foam Rolling?

Why Are You Foam Rolling?

We’ve all heard about or tried foam rolling. But why should we do it, and what is it actually doing? It may not be doing what you think it is.  Many believe that by rolling on their “tight” muscles and fascia (connective tissue that surrounds muscles) will help...

Blood Flow Restriction Training (BFRT)

Blood Flow Restriction Training (BFRT)

What is it? Blood flow restriction training is a brief and intermittent restriction of arterial and venous blood flow in the arm or leg by means of a tourniquet. This restriction in blood flow to the limb results in physiological changes that mimic high intensity...