Before and after you partake in strength training and street workouts, it’s important to ensure you’re taking the necessary precautions to reduce injury and improve recovery time. That’s why stretching before and after strength training can offer some serious benefits. Not only will proper stretching exercises reduce injuries, but they’ll actually provide you with a more productive workout. Here is what you need to know about stretching, what kind of stretches to perform, and the research that points to the benefits of stretching before and after street workouts.

Preventing Injury

StretchingPerhaps one of the best reasons to stretch before a street workout is injury prevention. The goal is to get your muscles loose and limber, and prepared to tackle your strength training exercises. By stretching, you improve your range of motion, get blood pumping to your muscles, and elevate your heart rate. This is especially important if you just woke up or have been sedentary all day.

For example, one study found that stretching just 15 minutes before a workout helped reduce injuries, illustrating that research supports the benefits of stretching.

Static versus Dynamic stretching

While many people think of stretching as static stretches, often one of the best ways to stretch before a workout is to perform a dynamic warm-up. Static stretching is the type of stretching that involves holding a stretch pose for 30 seconds or more, such as toe touches. Instead, dynamic stretches feature more active stretches, such as hip twists, squats, high kicks, arm swings and side bends, which helps combine more cardio into your stretching routine. This helps improve blood flow and activate key muscle groups. In fact, dynamic warm-up stretching has been studied and delivers results.

For example, one group of college wrestlers was provided with 4 weeks of dynamic warm-up stretching exercises. This warm-up improved strength, speed, and anaerobic capacity for the wrestlers in the study.

Stretches to Avoid

stretching before workoutIn fact, many experts recommend that you avoid static stretches completely before a workout. For example, one study found that weightlifters had reduced strength if they used static stretching before a workout. In fact, an extremely large meta-analysis, which involved an analysis of many different studies, found that static stretches reduce strength, stamina, and explosive performance. In short, static stretching may lead to a less productive workout, which is exactly what you want to avoid.

That’s not to say static stretching is all bad. It definitely improves flexibility and can make you less prone to injuries. However, you should think about performing static stretches during your day and not right before a workout. By performing static stretches during the day, you can increase range of motion, a key factor for avoiding injuries.

For example, a group of people were selected to perform hamstring static stretches over a period of 6 weeks. By the end of the study, they had significantly improved range of motion, underlining the benefit of static stretching when it’s done at the right time.

After Your Workout

Of course, you should also perform some light stretches after your street workout and strength training. The goal is to keep muscles from tightening up after strength training. Otherwise, they can get sore and take longer to recover. Once your street workout is concluded, it’s fine to partake in static stretches or a dynamic warm-up, either one is fine.

Ultimately, stretching is an important part of a pre- and post street workout routine. You’ll help prevent injury, improve your overall strength, and increase your stamina. When in doubt, it’s best to speak with a personal trainer about what stretches will benefit you the most.