S tretch after exercise. Not before. At the end of exercise, while your muscles are hot, supple, elastic, flooded with blood, oxygen and nutrients. Stretch.
I read Doug McGuff's book, Body-By-Science, a few months back, in which he does not recommend stretching. McGuff explains that stretching does not improve strength. I like McGuff and I like his work. I disagree with him on this one.
McGuff may be correct, it will not improve strength, but I reckon it will improve flexibility.
I followed McGuff recos for about a year, doing High Intensity Training, to failure. I still train to failure each session at the gym. I now stretch at the end of each workout. I do 30 to 45 minute on machines, then 15 minutes of stretches. Stretching has made a huge difference to post workout and flexibility.
The theory for not stretching if you weight train, goes like this:
You don't need to stretch, if you work opposing muscles during a workout. For example, if you work your triceps and then your biceps immediately. The opposing muscle contraction will stretch the antagonist muscle.
If you work your triceps, at full stretch and contraction, the biceps will be stretched also. It applies to other muscles. This is true, only if you have full range motion.
I've observed others at the gym, they do not use full range motion for flexion and extension.
In addition, I have my doubts about tendons stretching during resistance training. During a stretching session, yes. You can feel it and feel the results of a good stretch session. The difference is notable.
Ballet dancers stretch. Gymnasts stretch. Martial artists stretch.
Now, I stretch.
- Stretch after exercise, not before
- Only stretch when you/your muscles are warm
- Ease slowly and gently into the stretch
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds
- Do NOT bounce while stretching
- Be patient, never force it
- If you feel a sharp pain, STOP