Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Fitness & Exercise

Font Size

Pre-Exercise Stretching May Not Be Helpful

Stretching After or Between Exercise -- Not Before -- Cuts Injury Risk

How to Stretch

Shrier and Raya both agree that a warm-up before stretching is essential. And while he doesn't recommend acute stretching, Shrier strongly advises warm-up before exercise. What kind of warm-up is best?

"Use the muscles you plan to use in the activity. Start slow, increase gradually," he says. "If jogging, start with walking, then jog slow and then slowly increase the speed until you are running at your regular pace -- maybe five to 15 minutes depending on your level of fitness. If you are planning to race, don't worry about tiring yourself out. Do this before the race to have the best race time. Don't stretch before."

Regular stretching improves flexibility, Shrier and Raya agree.

Raya says that people who want to improve their flexibility should stretch every day. Those comfortable with their flexibility, she says, need to stretch only three times a week. She advises athletes preparing for a specific event to be sure to stretch the all the muscles they'll be using in the sport.

"It is real important to maintain the stretch for 30 seconds," Raya says. "If you hold a stretch for less than 30 seconds, there's no proof you lengthen the muscle. And if you hold it longer, you do no extra good beyond the first 30 seconds."

Raya warns that bouncing while stretching -- known as ballistic stretching -- seems particularly unhelpful. She advises against it unless a person has specifically trained to perform these kinds of stretches.


Healthy Living Tools

Ditch Those Inches

Set goals, tally calorie intake, track workouts and more, all via WebMD’s free Food & Fitness Planner.

Get Started

Today on WebMD

Wet feet on shower floor tile
Flat Abs
Build a Better Butt Slideshow
woman using ice pack

man exercising
7 most effective exercises
Man looking at watch before workout
Overweight man sitting on park bench
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply

pilates instructor
jogger running among flowering plants
Teen girl jogging
Taylor Lautner