This is the Right Way to Stretch Before Your Next Workout

Stretching before a class can help you prevent injuries and get the most out of your workout — but here’s how to do it right.

stretch before your workoutphoto credit: shutterstock

To prevent yourself from an injury during your next workout, you’ll definitely want to stretch before

You may have heard that stretching before a workout is a no-no, but it’s how you stretch that matters, says David Behm, PhD, a research professor in the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation at Memorial University of Newfoundland. 

It’s actually the type and duration of stretching that matters

While prolonged static stretching prior to exercise — where you hold the stretch for more than a minute per muscle group — isn’t necessary, and might even impede performance, you should still limber up before jumping into a game, or starting a class. For recreational athletes, the reduced risk of muscle and tendon injuries from stretching is more important than a possible three to five percent reduction in performance from static stretching, says Behm.

Related: Are you stiff and in need a good stretch? This yoga flow will help to loosen yourself up and avoid injuries.

How long you should stretch for

He recommends adding about five minutes of dynamic stretching (when you move various muscle groups through a repeated range of motion without holding at the end point) to your warm-up before a distance run, and also a few minutes of static stretching (for less than 60 seconds per stretch) prior to any exercise, like tennis, that requires a more extreme range of motion and quick directional changes.

The stretches you should try

Try a series of shoulder circles, forward and back, and controlled leg kicks, going back and forth and side to side for a count of 30 seconds per side as part of your warm-up. (Click here for more information on dynamic stretches.) 

Related: And if you really want to be more flexible, check out our one-week flexibility fitness challenge.

Originally Published in Best Health Canada