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When Should You Stretch

Posted on in Health & Fitness, News, Sports Medicine

If you’re wondering whether you need to stretch before or after you exercise, congratulations! That means that you’ve committed to an exercise plan and are on your way to wellness. Remember, before starting any exercise program, be sure to consult with a medical professional. At Southeast Orthopedic, our physical therapy team is happy to talk through the best and safest ways to workout to minimize injury and treat old wounds with care.

The Benefits of Stretching Before You Exercisea woman stretching

Stretching before you exercise has numerous benefits. Stretching is a gentle way of waking up the body and increasing both blood flow and heart rate. You can choose to do static stretching, in which you sit or stand while isolating individual muscles or groups of muscles while holding still. You may also try dynamic stretching, which means moving your body while stretching. For example, rotating your shoulders in place is a form of dynamic stretching you can before lifting weights. Stretching helps to “warm” your body and prepare it for exercise. It’s also a great way to check in with your current energy levels, any pain you’re dealing with, and your general physical concerns before diving into rigorous movement.

The Benefits of Stretching After You Exercise

But hold on a minute, stretching before you workout doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t stretch after you exercise as well. In fact, bookending your exercise with short stretch sessions is a great way to stay healthy and avoid a damaging injury that could one day lead to major surgery, like a knee replacement. Stretching after a workout helps your body to calm down gently rest your muscles after exertion. Be careful not to overdo it when you stretch after a workout; it’s easy to overextend “warm” muscles, so take it slow and breathe deeply. Not sure exactly how to stretch after a workout for the best benefit? Work with a qualified physical therapist to develop a solid stretch plan, and you should begin experience less soreness and greater stamina in your workouts to come.

At Southeast Orthopedic Specialists, our team of physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors is happy to work out with home athletes at every level. Exercise is a great way to stay fit and healthy, and we can help you do so while minimizing the risk of injury or ongoing pain. Get in touch today!

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