Stretching is a critical part of any workout. It helps improve flexibility so you have a greater range of motion to achieve your fitness goals. Plus, stretching benefits your mind as well as your body because it reduces stress and anxiety. That said, should you be stretching before or after you exercise – or both?
Does stretching before a workout really help?
It used to be commonly accepted that stretching before exercise reduces the risk of injury. However, new research suggests that this depends on what sort of workout you’re actually doing. For cardio exercises like running or cycling, you should warm up the muscles with light aerobic movements instead. This is because stretching can actually temporarily weaken muscle strength, making your exercise less effective. Static stretches before a workout should therefore be avoided. (These are stretches where you hold the same position for about 30 seconds at a time.) Doing small dynamic stretches that activate various muscle groups are better at preparing your body for the upcoming workout.
Benefits of stretching after a workout
A post-exercise cool down can stimulate muscle recovery, especially after a particularly vigorous routine. It also improves your posture and eliminates lower back pain: stretching the back, shoulders, and chest relieves tension in those areas. Stretching after a workout does more than loosen up your muscles, though. The so-called “runner’s high” is a real thing: exercise releases endorphins that make you feel happier and more confident. This way you can carry the joy of a good workout out of the gym, too!
Stretching at a Pure Barre studio
Not only should you develop your own post-workout stretch routine, incorporating a flexibility class can increase your exercise performance. Pure Barre is an especially good choice for this. Each class has a flow of safe and effective low-impact moves that are designed to create long and lean muscles. Pure Barre also takes full advantage of all the endorphins that exercise brings. Each hour-long class enables you to concentrate exclusively on small, targeted movements that boost circulation and burn calories. Because there are no intense cardio movements, the barre exercises are much easier on your joints. Instead, the Pure Barre difference is founded on intervals of strength training and stretching – the perfect combination of static and dynamic stretches. These strategically placed stretching movements ensure optimal results, so when you face that studio mirror, you see a dancer’s physique.