When is the best time to fit stretching to you exercise program? The answer is of course when you most enjoys and accepts it. Some of you don’t like to take time for stretching that lasts more than a minute. If this is your personality “sneak” stretches in during the workout as active recovery.
Some of you might look forward to the quiet time-out, relaxation and stress reduction that an extended series of stretches provides. Work with your preferences so that you can maintain this important component of fitness.
The optimal time to stretch strongly depends on your training goal. The degree of warm up that has taken place, and the type of activity, as well as personal preference.
Graduated low level rhythmic warm up movement is essential prior to stretching. The warm up activity should move through an easy range of movement, never going beyond a point perceived as excessive strain. The movement should be kept fluid, rhythmic and controlled. Duration of a warm up depends on the activity being participated and you physical capacity. However the general guideline confirms a minimum of 3 to 5 minutes to increase your core temperature and to reduce viscosity or resistance to stretch in the muscle. High intensity activity requires extreme range of movement may require 5 to 15 minutes and extended stretching period after the warm up.
Safe and effective stretching can occur after an adequate warm-up, regardless of where it is placed during the workout. But stretching does not replace and adequate warm up.
If stretches are performed during the warm up preceding aerobic activity, the stretches should not last more than 10 seconds and should be interspersed throughout the warm up (Kravitz and Kosich 1993), main aim of warm up being to redistribute blood to working muscles. Holding for more than 10 seconds may inhibit an effective blood shift to working muscles.
To increase ROM, it may be best to perform stretching after aerobic training or other activity, because the soft tissue will be very warm as a result of an elevated core body temperature and more likely to respond to flexibility training.