Although there is a difference of opinion whether stretching really helps prevent injury no one can deny the numerous benefits it offers. People who are into yoga and pilates, especially experts, believe that stretching is of immense importance, and therefore, it is now a crucial part of health and fitness. If done regularly, stretching exercises can help you to relieve lower back pain, improve flexibility and reduce stress. But do you know when is considered the best time to stretch? Should you stretch in the morning or evening? Well, this is one of most frequently asked questions and we are going to look at benefits of each today.
Stretching in the Morning
Many people have a habit of stretching in the morning, and they believe morning is the best time to stretch. This is because your body is in the stiffest phase when you wake up and when you stretch it out first thing in the morning, you won’t feel any stiffness throughout the day and when the day goes by you will have a better range of motions. It is however the hardest stretching because of the stiffness you have when you first wake up.
Stretching at Night
On the other hand, some people think that it is a better to stretch in the evening so one could have a restful sleep at night. People also tend to stretch at night because they have more free time before bed, and it hurts less during stretching after you have already been through the day and warmed up your muscles.
Stretching Before or After Workout?
One group says that you should stretch before you start your workout while the other says the best time to stretch is at the end of the workout. However this one straightforward – you should stretch before and after workout. Stretching before working out is considered a good warm-up to your muscles so they will have the flexibility they need to perform those exercises. Stretching after workout will act as a cooling down the muscles so that they won’t be all tensed up after the intense workout.
See Also: Different Types of Stretching
Know Your Purpose of Stretching
1. Reduce Tension
With that in mind, if you would like to do gentle range of motion stretching exercises where low level of intensity is involved and your primary goal is to reduce stiffness, fatigue, and tension, then what is more important is frequency. If this is the case, you don’t need to worry about the timing or duration of stretching.
2. Gain Flexibility
On the other hand, if you intend to gain more flexibility or heal an injury where you need to increase the range of motion, then you have to keep a good rule in mind to follow: Stretch after you are warmed up. This is because your muscles are more flexible after you are warmed up and can be stretched further.
If you do stretching as a warm up, it won’t make any noticeable improve to your flexibility because you will only be stretching to your normal flexibility. So in order to improve flexibility, it is important to do stretching as a warm up and also do stretching to cool down yourself. If time is allowed it is suggested to do stretching twice a day, morning and night, in order to gain maximum benefits.
Choose What Fits YOU!
But after all not all of us can spend so much time doing stretching. So before you choose a particular time of day to stretch, you should first figure out when during day do you have minimum resistance to do so. What does that mean? It means that you need to determine when you can take the time to do stretching exercises without having any distraction or giving yourself excuses. If you have trouble doing stretching in the morning because time is tight and you have to bring the kids to school – then don’t, you can do it at night. As long as it fits into your schedule and you can do it regularly then it will eventually be beneficial.
Cover Image Credit: János Balázs