When to Stretch
When to stretch when being physically active has been an ongoing debate. Do you warm up? Stretch after? Stretch before? The questions can be endless.
Research by Dr. Robert Herbert (University of Sydney, Australia) has shown that though stretching on a regular basis may not necessarily prevent muscle soreness after activities, it can help to lessen the effects of overuse or other acute sports injuries.
Warming up has not shown to have any effect on the ability for a muscle to resist strains or injury, however, warming up before stretching has shown to increase range of motion, and therefore allow muscles to bend more and increase flexibility, which can lead to a lessened chance of strains or sprains due to falls or twists.
The best stretches are also very basic- touch your toes, arm circles, reach to the sky, and quadriceps stretches are perfect ways to get kids the biggest stretching bang for the buck. Also, stretching should be a group effort. Make a stretching routine, do the same thing every time, and have everyone actively participate with counting. This will make everyone more involved and increase the likelihood that stretching will take place every time.
Herbert, RD, de Noronha M. Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 4.