I loved this article a colleague posted the other day.
There are so many misinterpretations of “stretching”, many of which can actually be harmful in the long term (stressing ligaments and tendons) and sometimes risky in the short term, e.g. muscle strain.
We know we should stretch because at some point we have been told to do so. But when is the best time to stretch and lengthen muscles? NOT before activity, but after!
Stretching “cold” (before activity) can lead to injury. The best way to get your body ready for activity is to move each joint through its normal range of motion. This act lubricates the joints and puts the intention on beginning to move. Jumping jacks, jogging in place… these activities make for good warm-up because they increase circulation. When you increase blood flow to your muscles, you are less likely to strain fibers.
A “dynamic warm-up” routine is a great way to get the body moving naturally before engaging in activity. (I’ll post more about this in a future blogpost!)
In my own personal practice, I have made it a habit to use the foam roller before activity, releasing fascial adhesions which would otherwise compromise muscle action and full range of movement. I always roll out my legs (the whole cylinder), my glutes, hip flexors, and low back- right at the bony crest of the hips.
The best time to stretch (the kind of stretch where your aim is to lengthen) is after activity when circulation is maximized and joints are well lubricated, moving through their full healthy range.
What I love about this article I’ve shared with you, is that it makes the clear distinction between static stretching (holding a stretch) and PANDICULATION, which is moving through stretching. Pandiculation is a much more mindful approach, which will keep you moving intelligently with awareness and understanding of the instrument that is uniquely yours.