by Caleb Backe, Certified Personal Trainer and Health & Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics, special to SportsMD.com
Muscles can be compared to elastic bands. When you stretch the band, it bounces back with more force than before. Yet, if you don’t stretch the band for a while and then pull it tightly, it has the tendency to snap. Similarly, when you stretch your muscles both before and after your workout, they’re able to repair stronger than before. This is most evident with yoga in which regular stretching leads to rapid improvements in muscle strength and flexibility. This is the basis for using stretches as a means to increase your range of motion above all else.
Nevertheless, there is still little conclusive evidence to connect stretching and delayed soreness post-workout. In practice, this means that stretching before and after a workout serves a different purpose than to reduce the pain associated with your workout. Stretching after your workout gives your muscles the necessary transition between an intense workout to your day-to-day movement. Skipping your post-workout stretch can increase muscle tightness and reduce you overall mobility. A combination of the two increases your risk of future injury. With this in mind, for an athlete looking to improve recovery, post-workout stretching will have little impact on muscle soreness. If you’re not stretching as part of your training to reduce pain, it has other benefits post-workout such as improving range of motion, aiding in muscle remodeling and boosting circulation for better overall body functioning.