How to Stretch Before and After Outdoor Fitness Activities

Muscles are made up of bundles of tiny fibers. In typical exercise-related muscle strain, these fibers cause microscopic tears. Theoretically, stretching before exercise should make your muscles more flexible and less likely to tear. However, when studies compared the rates of muscle injury or pain in people who stretched before exercising and in people who didn't, they found that stretching had little benefit.

In fact, stretching a cold, tight muscle could cause injury. Dynamic stretching, which involves active range-of-motion movements that tend to resemble sporting or movement-specific actions, is the best way to prepare your body for outdoor fitness activities. This type of stretching lengthens the fascia (the connective tissue that surrounds muscles), increases core body temperature and functionally prepares the body for future activity. Dynamic stretching before physical activities has been shown to help prepare muscles for activity. After your workout, it's important to cool down with static stretching. This type of stretching helps reduce muscle tension and soreness, as well as improve flexibility.

Static stretching involves holding a position for a period of time and should be done after your muscles are warm. It's important to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds and repeat each stretch two to three times. When it comes to outdoor fitness activities, it's important to remember that proper stretching can help you avoid injury and maximize your performance. Dynamic stretching before activity and static stretching after activity can help you get the most out of your workout.

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