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Stretching Before Exercise Can Lead to Injury and Tighter Muscles

Do You Still Stretch Before Working Out?

Back in the day when I played team sports in school, we warmed up with stretches, but my how things have changed. Repeated studies have shown that stretching a cold muscle isn't safe — they're more likely to tear — and it's less effective. New research has found that stretching before exercise may actually make muscles contract and become shorter, the exact opposite of what you want before working out.

Skip the static stretching, like bending over to touch your toes for a half minute, before embarking on your fitness routine be it running or strength training. Instead try an active warmup that gets the blood flowing and primes the muscles and joints for movement. Jogging or walking briskly works as well.

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danakscully64 danakscully64 6 years
I "get it" now. I started doing Jillian Michaels videos a few months ago, no more stretching before a workout.
mtiger mtiger 7 years
I do a 5 minute warmup before working out, but no cold stretches. I am a HUGE fan of stretching afterwards, however.
bethinabox bethinabox 7 years
I walk ~15 minutes to the gym before getting on the elliptical, so I guess you could call that an active warm up. :P But no, I don't stretch before working out.
HoneyBrown1976 HoneyBrown1976 7 years
I don't stretch before I start. I'll do a warm-up, do my exercise, stretch, and go back to the exercise.
danakscully64 danakscully64 7 years
I admit, I stretch. Not just to prepare for a workout, but because it feels good. I try to walk in place to do my real warm up, I just don't see myself ditching minor stretching. What about with Pilates, is stretching okay? Or Yoga?
danakscully64 danakscully64 7 years
@ Chloe - Jillian Michaels? :) I'm surprised I haven't done that yet.
YogiNik YogiNik 7 years
I actually like jumping rope before I play Tennis or do anything physical. I do high-knees and a few walking lunges too, just to loosen up my legs, since they're doing a lot of the work. :) But the jump rope, honestly... I do it to burn more calories in my day. Even 1-3 minutes before and after helps, and keeps my inner fire going.
stellaRuby stellaRuby 7 years
No stretching. Five minute (ish) walk and then I start to run.
socalbeachgal socalbeachgal 7 years
I do an active warm-up before I hit the cardio full speed.
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 7 years
I pulled a muscle doing my splits when I wasn't warmed up at all. It sucked! I still can't get into my middle splits after that, but I'm back in my left and right ones. Now I never ever stretch until after my workout!
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
I do the active warmup that I learned from Jillian Anderson's 30 day shred - hip circles and knee circles. I really think the knee circles in particular have helped me because they allow me to stretch my hamstrings out gently before running. And I always walk for 3 minutes before and after I run.
outstripped outstripped 7 years
I know it's bad, but I can't help but stretch a teeensy bit before my workout. My major stretching I do after, though.
ticamorena ticamorena 7 years
I don't stretch right before a workout, but do little stretches or joint exercises throughout the day. I always start cardio with a little warm up (usually side skips and leg/arm shakes) and I do all my strength exercising either during or after cardio
pamela87 pamela87 7 years
Sarah--I meant how did you know your lack of stretching was how you hurt yourself, obviously ;)
TheLittleMonster TheLittleMonster 7 years
I do an active warm up. As stupid as it sounds, I just never really had the patience to stand there and do all these stretches. So I'll walk, gradually easing into a jog and then a run when I feel all warmed up.
imLissy imLissy 7 years
sounds more like the injury was caused because you didn't warm up rather than not stretching.
RVASarah RVASarah 7 years
pamela87- I know that I injured myself because I pulled a muscle in my thigh (one that I use quite frequently in my sport) and was in a lot of pain. Sarcasm aside, I didn't stretch at all before the game thus leaving my muscles cold and susceptible to injury.
pamela87 pamela87 7 years
^RVASarah-- how do you know that you injured yourself? Research shows you are MORE likely to hurt yourself while stretching your cold muscles or stretching before you exercise, so I'm curious to know why you claim the opposite.
RVASarah RVASarah 7 years
As someone who has injured herself by not stretching before rigorous activity, I cannot emphasize stretching enough. :-)
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