ZocdocAnswersShould I stretch before I exercise?

Question

Should I stretch before I exercise?

I just heard a really interesting news story that said if you don?t stretch before you exercise, you don?t have to, but if you do stretch before you exercise, you should keep stretching. What?s the difference? Are both okay?

Answer

Stretching before exercising is a topic for which there are many opinions. If you are thinking of starting a new exercise routine or changing an old one, it can be very helpful to speak with your primary care physician. Depending upon your overall health status, chronic health conditions, and history with athletics, he or she may be able to provide some helpful advice about how to avoid injury with increased activity. Overall, stretching both before and after activity is considered a good way to prevent injury and protect muscles and joints. Professional athletes in every sport engage in significant stretching activities and many will even travel with athletic trainers to help facilitate this. As with any element of sports medicine that is reported on by the popular media, there can sometimes be differences of opinion between people interviewed for a given story. As a recreational athlete, it is best to continue whatever you have been doing; consult with a reputable coach or trainer if you are interested in advancing to the next level; and always remember that your primary care physician can be a resource in answering your questions about preventing injury or tailoring activity around your particular health history.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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