Whether or not to stretch before and after exercise is a matter of preference. While, research suggests that stretching before exercise is unlikely to improve your performance, reduce your risk of injury or prevent sore muscles, there is no evidence that it’s harmful.
Why do you have to stretch?
Stretching leads to improved flexibility, which increases a joint’s ability to reach, twist and bend. Gymnasts would benefit more from the flexibility that comes with stretching as compared to say, runners.
Muscles and tendons in our bodies store energy like a spring. Therefore, overstretching may reduce the natural spring, which can be detrimental to activities involving jumping, running and sudden changes of direction. Conversely, too little flexibility is associated with increased risk of muscle strain injury.
Stretches before workout
The decision to stretch before exercising depends on what you want to achieve. If your objective is to reduce the risk of injury, you are better off warming up your muscles with light movements and aerobic exercises because stretching won’t help.
Stretching would be ideal if you intend to increase your range of motion, and if it would be more beneficial than the small loss of force that would result from stretching.
Stretches after workout
Some evidence suggests that static stretching just after exercising may increase power and speed, and reduce injury. It’s best to stretch when the muscles are still warm and pliable. Stretching after exercises helps to slow down your heart rate and breathing to bring back both the mind and body to a resting state.
Based on the mentioned research findings, stretching before and or after exercising might have minuscule benefits but would probably cause no harm. There is no reason to stop stretching if it’s part of your exercise routine or if you enjoy it. You don’t need to feel guilty about not stretching if it’s not your cup of tea.