Do you stretch before or after exercise?

Do you stretch before or after exercise?

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Can stretching help to prevent sore muscles?

Sport is healthy: experts agree on that. Regular exercise can help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. However, experts disagree when it comes to stretching before doing sports.

Experts disagree on the subject of stretching
Most experts agree that sport is healthy. For example, regular exercise can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure or heart attack. In addition, athletes are less likely to suffer from overweight or obesity. When it comes to stretching, however, there is no consensus among experts. Sports scientists and trainers saw stretching as a performance-enhancing all-purpose weapon for a long time. It was reputed to prevent injuries and to protect against muscle soreness. However, as the dpa news agency reports in a recent report on the subject, scientific studies neither clearly demonstrate protection against injury nor the prevention of sore muscles.

Stretching can also be "counterproductive"
"There are sports where stretching can even be counterproductive beforehand," Ingo Froböse, professor at the Institute for Exercise Therapy and Exercise-Oriented Prevention and Rehabilitation at the German Sport University Cologne, told the agency. For example in soccer or other activities that require speed. The expert sees the stretched muscle rather weakened even at maximum loads such as weight lifting. Warming up before sport - no matter what sport - is more important. It is usually sufficient to carry out the movement typical of the sport slowly and with low intensity. “So if you want to jog, just run the first five minutes more calmly. That is enough as protection against injury, ”explained Froböse.

Elderly and stress sufferers should stretch
Jürgen Freiwald, who heads the Movement Science department at the University of Wuppertal, is somewhat more relaxed. If recreational athletes feel better after stretching, they should do so calmly. “By stretching before doing sports, I lose two to five percent of my maximum performance. This range of services is irrelevant for recreational athletes. ”In particular, senior citizens and people suffering from stress are advised to stretch: It“ can make them more agile or maintain their agility ”. Sport scientists prefer flexible, dynamic stretching as preparation for sport as part of the warm-up. Freiwald explained that after a hard day's work, static stretching, the so-called stretching, also made sense. The head controls the muscles and the muscles the head. You can feel that in relaxation exercises like yoga. For some people, however, he sees the stretching critically: "Even over-active athletes are more susceptible to injuries."

No sore muscles prevention
For strength training, Freiwald advises doing the warm-up movement without weights or with a light load. "The cartilage, the muscle-tendons and the tendon-muscle transitions usually cause the problems, so they are made supple and are then well prepared." However, the situation is different for sports that require maximum mobility. The sports scientists for gymnastics, hurdles, dolphin swimming or rhythmic gymnastics think stretching is appropriate as part of the warm-up. This also applies to martial arts such as karate and taekwondo and for hurdles or ballet. Experts have finally dismissed the opinion that muscle soreness can be prevented by stretching: "There are no reliable studies that demonstrate a preventive effect of stretching against the intensity or duration of muscle soreness," explained Hans-Joachim Appell Coriolano, professor at the institute for physiology and anatomy of the German Sport University Cologne. A panacea for sore muscles that health experts often cite is: just don't go to the limit of pain! However, if this does happen, home remedies for sore muscles can often provide relief.

Stretching exercises are important for muscle hygiene

However, stretching exercises remain a relevant part of doing sports and are important for muscle hygiene: "After exercising, stretching should support muscle relaxation, and stretching makes sense during sports when a cramp is on the horizon," says Appell. In this case, however, stretching only prevents the cramp for a short time. In the long term, stretching in particular improves the mobility of the joints and their surrounding structures. According to Freiwald, recent research no longer focuses so much on the muscles themselves, but rather on the connective tissue in the muscles and their wrapping, the so-called fascia. For example, a medical doctor from Günzburg in Bavaria recently reported that he found out that fasciae are often the cause of back pain. "With the clarification of the functions of the fascia, which pulls over the joints from head to toe, we will be able to solve many puzzles in the future that are still attached to stretching". Regardless of whether you are stretching muscles or fascia: "When stretching, as in life as a whole, do not go over the pain threshold," warned Appell. And Froböse explained: "Stretching afterwards is more important than before". (ad)

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