When you get up, and your joints are tight and sore, you rush to loosen them up. Perhaps you do little circles with your wrists, shoulders, or ankles or perform a stretching routine.
And that’s great. It’s exactly what you should be doing.
Stretching your joints and muscles helps them loosen up to enhance your mobility and ease joint pain. But it’s not always safe.
There is a time and place for static stretching. Thankfully, the list is pretty limited. If there’s one time when you don’t want to perform static stretching, it’s right before a workout.
That may go against what you’ve heard in the past.
The reason why it’s wise to avoid stretching immediately before a workout is to prevent hyperextension. When joints are too loose before a workout, they are at risk of bending further than they should. This adds extra stress and ultimately increases the chance of injury.
Of course, you don’t want to jump into a workout with cold joints and muscles, either.
To get around this paradox, it’s a good idea to warm up with a walk, light jump rope, or a form of “dynamic stretching.” Dynamic stretching involves moving your whole body. An example would be taking high steps and extending your arms with each step.
Static stretching, on the other hand, involves standing still and stretching a given muscle or joint.
Following your workout, go ahead and static stretch. Just avoid it immediately before to prevent injury.
Going through a stretching routine three or four times a week may help improve mobility and joint pain to help you get on with your day. Activities like Yoga and Tai Chi, which emphasize various forms of stretching, may also help you cope with joint pain.