By the healthiergang writer , personal trainer with a degree in Exercise and Sports Sciences.
One of the increasingly debated topics in the world of sport and fitness is the question “stretching before or after training”. Furthermore, one wonders whether stretching actually serves or not. Let's shed some light on this; first of all there are 3 types.
1. Types of Stretching
Ballistic is the earliest known type of stretch. The method of ballistic stretching is very simple, you arrive in the position of maximum stretch and then you try to go beyond this position with a sharp and violent movement.
It is generally not used in sports centers, gyms, and clubs because it is dangerous as it stimulates the inverse myotatic reflex.
The inverse myotatic reflex is a type of unconditional reflex that causes the muscle to react with a rapid contraction. The muscle in question is subjected to a sudden stretch tension. This increases the risk of muscle-tendon trauma.
This feature made other types of stretching preferable to ballistic.
It involves taking certain stretches of target muscles and holding them indefinitely. In order to induce the affected muscle to a static and prolonged stretching.
Dynamic stretching involves controlled movements that allow you to slowly and progressively increase joint mobility in a dynamic way. Without inducing trauma. This type of stretching is completely different from ballistic stretching.
Dynamic stretching is mainly used in warm-up, using progressive oscillations that gently and progressively reach the limits of one's own range of motion. Think, for example, of the lower limb bar oscillations in ballet dance, the flexion-extension of the torso on the legs in the training of footballers, etc.
Ballistic stretches attempt to force a joint beyond its range of travel. On the other hand, dynamic stretching is used to warm up a muscle or group of muscles and to mobilize the joints on which they pass, it also improves dynamic flexibility, which is why it is particularly suitable to be inserted in the warm-up phase of a workout.
2. Stretching Before or After Workout?
After this necessary clarification, we can answer the first question we asked ourselves: yes, stretching is useful and is one of the fundamental elements of the training session.
The answer to the second question instead is that stretching, in the light of what we have read above, should be done both before and after training; with due care.
In fact, before a workout, we should try to focus our attention on joint mobility and on the heating of the various muscle groups, using sequences of movements with increasing difficulty, and perhaps also with the help of a Foam Roller; this will allow us to face the training by minimizing the risk of joint and muscle trauma, and to be able to get the most out of our training thanks to an optimized muscle recruitment.
After a workout, however, it will be recommended to proceed with a static type stretching, which will allow the muscles to resume their initial tensions and better dispose of the fatigue and any contractures that are always lurking, especially if you train at high intensity.
3. The Foam Roller
A few lines above I mentioned the Foam Roller, a tool that for some time has invaded every gym and athletics track and velodrome in the world, and that most of the time is used inappropriately.
It is a PVC tube covered with rubbery material of various hardnesses that has different designs (ranging from completely smooth to tank-like ones).
It is often used for stretching before or after training. However, as we will see, the foam roller is only useful for one type of stretching. Its purpose is both of a therapeutic type of pressure on the muscle fascia and to improve circulation in the treated area. This tool then goes to break any contractures.
To answer the question "is the Foam Roller better to use it for stretching before or after training?" we can say that the foam roller is an excellent pre-workout (coupled with dynamic stretching) but a bad post-workout tool.
With this article we hope to have shed some light on stretching and its main functions, perhaps convincing those who do not do it to start, and those who perform it badly to correct themselves.
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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you are concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or making major changes to your diet.