Originally Posted by citrine
Stretching is very important, especially now since we live such sedentary lifestyles!
I tell all of my clients to stretch at work every hour to give their bodies a break from being in one position for too long. Stretching prior to working out helps the muscles to warm up prior to being used full throttle.
The best way to integrate stretching is via yoga or active isolated stretching that I have my therapist do on me to loosen me up.
Five years ago while I was training for a marathon (power walking it not running) I was skeptical of the extensive stretching my training group was doing. So I spent a couple of days researching on the internet.
The bottom line is that static stretches before you exercise, provide no benefit and may result in increased injuries, especially for more intensive exercise like fast running or heavy weightlifting. This is because the stretch loosens and weakens the muscle which may cause it to fail easier.
My marathon/triathlete girlfriend and my sister the fitness nut, didn't believe at first. Then over the next couple of year their various running and fitness magazine featured several stories saying the same thing as I said.
Instead of stretching before you exercise, you are far better off doing a much less intensive version of your exercise for 5 to 10 minutes to let your muscles warm up. So a slow jog, before running, a few sets of light weights, or a a few practice volleys on the tennis courts is a much better alternative.
Now stretching after you work out is different story. Most studies have shown that it reduces soreness after exercise and may help with flexibility.
So I think you should stretch out after working. I believe Yoga is a different because it tends to be more dynamic stretches, but my Yoga experience is limited to Wii Fit
Finally, the good feeling you get from stretching is caused by your body producing endorphins to mask the pain as you create micro-tears in your muscles..