To stretch or not to stretch

One of the more commonly held beliefs when it comes to exercise, is that before you do anything you need to stretch. You will often see people about to head out for a run, take to the elliptical machine, or even start their weight routine first by doing a series of static stretches such as a quad stretch or butterfly pose thinking that before they get started they need to stretch their muscles. But the fact is, that if you are stretching cold muscles you are not only risking a strain or even a tear, but you may be reducing your muscle's power too!

Research is showing that not only is it a bad idea to stretch before working out, but it can actually hamper your performance too. Muscles that are not warmed up or loose before being put into a stretch are not only more likely to be injured but can have a reduction of power of up to 30 percent. Not good news to anyone looking to play harder, run faster, or lift heavier. Stretching isn't all bad, but it needs to be done at the right time. This would be after your warm up or after your workout; once your muscles have been activated and put to use. Stretching is great at increasing flexibility and gaining a full range of motion, but the best time to do that is after your workout.

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