Let’s debunk one of the theories around stretching passively after training. Does it benefit the body?
Firstly, when is the best time to stretch? Let’s look into the two different types of movements. We have “mobility/mobilisation & activation” then we have “stretching”. These are two separate and completely different activities
Mobilisation/activation is taking your muscles for a specific range of motion pre-workout so you can get the most out of your workout. Think of it as stoking the fire to get oxygen into the area so that the fire will burn better. It is the same concept with the muscle groups. We want to pump the blood in all the right areas to release the fascia around the muscle while also warming up the muscle group, and so it can be fired up and ready to power up.
Stretching is holding a muscle at it’s greatest length for a set amount of time and then releasing it. The purpose is to extend the muscle by applying more tension through a stretched position to lengthen the muscles further. A stretch hold is best practice for this one.
Secondly, you may ask yourself which one is beneficial for me? “I just want to come and train” or “I just want to drop body fat” or “I just want to gain muscle, so I’m not worried about being flexible.”
The better you move, the stronger you can become, and the more muscle activation you can get, leading to better results long-term. This will add longevity to your training life, plus you get the of benefit being able to do a variety of exercises to keep your training fun and engaging.
Decreasing how tight and locked up your body is will lower the chance of injury through everyday life or in the gym. The better you move the less chance you have hurting yourself. Or if you do get a niggle or minor injury, your recovery rate will be much faster; hence this is a big reason to warm up properly.
At Uber Shape Burleigh Heads, we always add mobility at the start of our group classes, why? We want to get the muscles moving and a full range of motion ready to lift, ready to push, run and move.
Why don’t we (generally) stretch after training, specifically after lifting heavy weights? If you’ve done mobilisation at the start of our sessions, either through foam rolling, ball releases, active stretching with us before the class plus a proper warm-up, then you’ve taken your muscles for a full range of motion. You don’t need to stretch after training as you’ve already done the stretching.
The best time to add stretching in would be around 3 hours + after training. A good habit to start is to stretch before bed or in the evening. Why? After exercise, your muscles are stretched then contracted to the maximum amount for that session. The training has already damaged your muscles with small fibre tears; at this point, we don’t want to add any extra tears to that muscle group. Instead, follow your post-training recovery by putting in adequate amounts of water and the correct nutrition after your training. Do you need advice on this? Don’t hesitate to email us back at [email protected]
In summary, what should you do to get the best out of your workout?
#1 Foam Roller (anytime, before the start of the session is great)
#2 Mobilisation and Activation Movements (before training- we look after this for you)
#3 Post-Training – water and correct nutrition
#3 Stretching, 3+ hours or before bed
HOT TIP – add a tennis ball or foam roller next to your bed or beside the tv, and create a habit to stretch and relax every night. You wont be as sore the following day if you do:)