The Stretching Controversy: ANSWERED

Q: Should I stretch before or after my workout?

This is an age old question that has gone back and forth over the years. The National Academy of Sports Medicine (2014) integrates static, active, and dynamic stretching into the warm-up and cool-down components of the Optimum Performance Training programming model. More specifically, in your warm-up, you should focus on stretching your most overactive (overworked and tight) muscles identified in your fitness assessments. In your cool-down, you can re-target your most overactive muscles and focus on muscles worked during your exercise program.

“[Individuals] without adequate levels of flexibility and joint motion may be at increased risk of injury, and may not be able to achieve their personal fitness goals until these deficits are corrected.” (NASM, 2014, p. 162)

Stretching helps trigger autogenic inhibition, a process where neural impulses sensing tension in your muscles override the impulses causing your muscles to contract, or stay tight. Ultimately, this leads to:Photo credit:

  • correcting muscle imbalances
  • increasing joint range of motion
  • decreasing the excessive tension of muscles
  • relieving joint stress
  • maintaining normal functional length of all muscles
  • improving function

Poor flexibility can lead to [dys]functional movement patterns and result in injury. (NASM, 2014)

It is true that some studies have found stretching before your workout to have a negative impact upon athletic performance. However, no conclusive evidence has been found to determine how stretching impacts overall athletic performance.

NASM (2014) concluded,

  • “Acute static stretching, held for more than 30 seconds, may decrease strength and power” (p. 180)
  • “Static stretching may be used to correct muscle imbalances and increase joint range of motion before activity” (p. 180)
  • “Active and dynamic stretching may be used without risking a loss of strength and power.” (p.180)


The moral of the story is to integrate stretching into your daily routine and before and after your workouts. Learn more about your muscle imbalances by scheduling an appointment to conduct your fitness assessments. This will help you identify the overactive and underactive muscles in your body.


Well, just don’t sit there. STRETCH!

Photo credits:
woman stretching –
lion stretching –



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