To prevent yourself from an injury during your next workout, you’ll definitely want to stretch before
You may have heard that stretching before a workout is a no-no, but it’s how you stretch that matters, says David Behm, PhD, a research professor in the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
It’s actually the type and duration of stretching that matters
While prolonged static stretching prior to exercise — where you hold the stretch for more than a minute per muscle group — isn’t necessary, and might even impede performance, you should still limber up before jumping into a game, or starting a class. For recreational athletes, the reduced risk of muscle and tendon injuries from stretching is more important than a possible three to five percent reduction in performance from static stretching, says Behm.
How long you should stretch for
He recommends adding about five minutes of dynamic stretching (when you move various muscle groups through a repeated range of motion without holding at the end point) to your warm-up before a distance run, and also a few minutes of static stretching (for less than 60 seconds per stretch) prior to any exercise, like tennis, that requires a more extreme range of motion and quick directional changes.
The stretches you should try
Try a series of shoulder circles, forward and back, and controlled leg kicks, going back and forth and side to side for a count of 30 seconds per side as part of your warm-up. (Click here for more information on dynamic stretches.)