Flexibility/Stretching, Q&A

Stretching: When, How, and for How Long?

Stretching: When, How, and for How Long?

Most exercisers know that flexibility is an important component of fitness. Stretching can not only prevent injuries, but increase blood circulation, increase your range of motion, and improve your performance. What many exercisers don’t know is when to stretch and for how long.

Adding to the confusion, is the controversy which has arisen in the fitness industry itself regarding whether or not to include static (non-moving) stretching in the warm-up.  According to the Aerobics and Fitness Association guidelines published in 2010, light, preparatory stretching is optional during the warm-up. based upon the needs of individuals the activity or environment. *  More intense stretches held longer than 15 seconds belong at the end of the workout or during the cool-down phase.  Aside from the controversy surrounding static stretching during a warm-up, exercisers can also do dynamic stretching and/or movement rehearsal as part of the warm-up. Examples would include shoulder circles, side to side lunges, and other fluid movements.

I remember the days when we would commonly stretch before the warm-up…on cold muscles. The problem is cold muscles are more prone to over-extension tears, strains, and other injuries. Once blood is flowing and the heart rate is elevated, muscles can be stretched more safely.

If you have a fitness question you would like me to answer please send an email to Questions@GetFitWithKayla.com

*AFAA Basic Exercise Standards and Guidelines Reference Manual. Fifth Edition 2010 p. 26

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