Stretching has become a controversial issue in the fitness world over the last couple of years. Some studies suggest it inhibits muscular performance and actually increases people’s chances of getting hurt.
For example, if you stretch before you lift weights, you may feel weaker during your workout; your hands may not be steady, risking injuries.
Slideshow: Best Stretches Before and After a Workout
But experts are not ready to ban them from pre-training routines. Stretching your body is like stretching a cold rubber band—it won't stretch as far, and you could end up doing damage to that muscle.
The confusion comes from mistaking stretching for warmups. What people should steer clear of before a workout is static stretching – stretching muscles between 30 and 90 seconds while the body is at rest and you’re not moving at all. These should be done when you’re cooling down after a workout to increase flexibility.
Dynamic stretching, or basically stretching while moving around, is recommended prior to beginning a training program. You should incorporate more dynamic movements before exercising as they will warm up the muscles and joints.
Such routines that involve active movements are also known as plyometrics. Studies showed that dynamic stretching prior to a workout enhanced performance well beyond static stretching. Other research suggested that just a month-long dynamic stretching routine elicited jumps in everything from strength to power and muscular endurance.