What is the purpose of stretching?

Stretching, Flexibility, Stretching.... No matter what you call it, stretching can help with joint mobility, circulation and posture, but above all, it can improve your flexibility. Beyond the aesthetic and impressive aspect of being able to do the splits, being flexible is an advantage in many areas related to your overall fitness. It can also help prevent injury and speed up recovery after training.

Therefore, it is important to stretch before and after your workout. When you stretch, you lengthen your muscles and tendons, preparing them for the activity ahead. You also warm up your muscles, making them less likely to strain during exercise. Stretching after exercise is also important because it helps your body cool down and recover from the workout. They can also help reduce muscle soreness.

How important is stretching before and after training?


The importance of stretching before and after a workout cannot be overstated. Pre-workout stretches prepare your muscles and tendons for the activity ahead, while post-workout stretches help your body cool down and recover from the workout. They can also help reduce muscle soreness. Stretching should be part of everyone's fitness routine!

The benefits of stretching

Stretching is an important part of any exercise routine. They help warm up the body and prepare it for the activity ahead. Stretching also helps to cool the body down after exercise and prevent muscle soreness.

There are many types of stretching, and each has its own benefits. Static stretching is a type of stretching that involves holding a position for a period of time. This type of stretching is beneficial because it improves flexibility. Dynamic stretching is a type of stretching that involves moving through a range of motion. This type of stretching is beneficial because it improves range of motion and coordination.

How to stretch properly?

It is important to always warm up before stretching. You can do this by doing a light aerobic activity, such as walking or jogging, for 5-10 minutes. Once you have warmed up, you can begin to stretch the muscles you will use during your workout. 

To stretch properly, you should do the following:

  1. Slowly move into a stretching position without jerking
  2. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
  3. Relax and return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Stretch each muscle for about 30 seconds and be sure to hold each stretch until you feel slight discomfort, but not pain. This will help you reduce muscle soreness and improve your flexibility.

When and how often to stretch? 

Although stretching is commonly performed at the end of a workout, that's not when it will help you loosen up! Also, avoid doing a stretching session before your workout.
More generally, whether you are athletic or not, it is recommended that you stretch when your muscles have not been used extensively just before, regardless of the time of day.
In order for you to visibly gain flexibility, it is obvious that you need to be consistent in your practice. One 60-minute stretching session per week or 2 sessions of 30 to 45 minutes. Each position should be held for a minimum of 30 seconds to benefit the muscle and/or joint.

Be careful! Although stretching is a gentle discipline, it is strongly advised to be accompanied by a qualified professional during your sessions. If your movements are not done properly, not only will you not feel any effect but you may also injure yourself. 

Sample stretching routine for beginners


Before starting any type of physical activity, it is important to warm up your body. A good stretching program will help you warm up your body and prepare it for the upcoming activity. This sample stretching program is designed for beginners, but can be adapted for all fitness levels.

The stretches should be done in the order listed, and each one should be held for at least 15 seconds. If you are new to stretching, start with the first two and work your way up to the others.

  1. Hamstring Stretch hamstrings Sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you. Reach toward your toes and hold the stretch for 15 seconds.
  2. Quadriceps Stretch: Stand with your feet parallel to each other and stretch your quadriceps (the muscle at the front of your thigh) by bringing one foot toward your buttocks. Move your hips to increase the stretch. Hold this stretch for 15 seconds.
  3. Hip flexor stretch: Kneel on the floor with one knee bent and one leg extended behind you. Place your hands on your outstretched leg and bend forward with your back straight. Hold this stretch for 15 seconds.
  4. Gluteal Stretch: Lie on your back and place one ankle on the opposite knee. Grasp the raised ankle and pull it toward your chest until you feel a good stretch in the gluteal muscles. Hold this position for 15 seconds.
  5. Calf Stretch: Stand with one foot in front of the other, heel up so that you are on your toes. Keeping your back straight, bend at the waist until you feel a good stretch in your calf muscles. Hold this position for 15 seconds.
  6. Upper Back Stretch: Sit upright with your feet flat on the floor and your spine straight. Lean to one side and reach across your body until you feel a good stretch in your upper back muscles. Hold this position for 15 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
  7. Seated Spinal Twist: Sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you. Bend one knee, tucking the foot underneath you, and turn the waist to look over the shoulder. Keep both shoulders straight to the floor. Hold this position for 15 seconds and switch sides.

But why stretch at all?


Stretching to maintain freedom of movement and independence: 

When we practice stretching exercises, our muscles and joints become more flexible and relaxed. As with any practice, the more we practice the more mobility we gain. That is to say that our body will gradually adapt to make movements of greater amplitude and with greater ease. Mobility and flexibility, associated with physical activity, allow us to promote and transfer strength in the body.
For example, an elderly person who has a minor fall will be able to get up much more easily if he or she is flexible and mobile. In the same way, an average person will have a better maintenance of his body posture, more facility to carry out without pain of the gestures of the daily newspaper (to tie his shoes, to make the household, the gardening etc) and less risk of injuries of types strains, tears, tendinitises, back pains etc.
The more flexible and mobile we are, the more comfortable we are in our body and in our movements. Also, the more our muscles and joints are put into action and softened, the more we will be protected from possible injuries due to false movements, bad postures and the bodily fragility of advancing age.

Stretching to improve your physical and athletic abilities:

As explained above, stretching promotes the mobility of the body and the strength/movement ratio. When we practice a physical activity or a sport, whatever it is, the first goal is often to strengthen our muscles, which can stiffen us in the long term in our movements. Stretching is therefore all the more important because by making our muscles and joints more flexible we promote the amplitude of our movements and reduce the constraints of training. Stretching can also improve our speed of execution of a movement and our stability in a given exercise.
Stretching is therefore an important ally for athletes! To be convinced of this, we need only observe the flexibility of judokas, the skill of gymnasts, the power and coordination of weightlifters.

Stretching to simply feel good: 

Beyond the physical benefits of stretching, it is also a moment of well-being. In this discipline, we do not look for pain but for stretching. 

The body and mind can release tension, we take the time to relax, to perform a movement gently and gradually.
By associating breathing with the movements, we also encourage the calming of the mind and concentration. The relaxations thus make it possible to refocus on oneself and to become aware of one's body.

Pre- and post-workout stretching is an important part of any training routine. They help prevent injury, increase flexibility and reduce muscle soreness. In this article, we'll show you the best stretches to warm up and cool down your body. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned athlete, be sure to add these stretches to your daily routine!

The Fitness Expert for Oktofit:



I have been dancing since I was 4 years old, I followed the teacher's course at Studio Harmonic in Paris and I currently teach in the East of France.