How long should my stretching routine last pre-workout?

After you have warmed up for 3-5 minutes you can do light stretching or foam roll for another 3-5 minutes. I prefer to do my stretching after I work out.

Your stretching routine may take 5-10 minutes depending on the number of muscles being stretched. A good place to start is with a type of self-massage that utilizes a foam roller to help alleviate knots in muscles. Try to focus on 2-3 muscle groups doing both the left and right sides of the body. The second type of technique that you should use is called static stretching, in which stretches are held for approximately 30 seconds. Again, try to focus on 2-3 muscle groups, stretching both the left and right sides of the body. For example, you can begin by foam rolling both calves, inner thighs, and latissimus dorsi (large back) muscles. Next, you can perform static stretches for both calves, inner thighs and latissimus dorsi. This stretching program should take approximately six minutes to complete.

Eric Beard
Sports Medicine

On average I have my clients perform 15 minutes worth of flexibility before they perform a strength training or cardio routine. It depends mostly on two things; 1) how many tight muscles do they have that need to be addressed 2) how much time do they have to work out.  I encourage my clients to practice flexibility techniques daily at home. This can save them time in the gym and have a better cumulative effect than only stretching before their more comprehensive exercise routines.  Almost all of my clients use a foam roll or practice some sort of myofascial release (self massage) in addition to other types of stretching. They primarily use static stretches, where you hold a stretch for 20-30 seconds for two-three sets for each targeted muscle at home right after foam rolling, but progress to more active or dynamic types of stretches as they get closer to their actual work out. Remember to use foam rolling and static stretching as an important part of your cool down too. It can help you recover faster from your workout as well as reduce muscular soreness.

Stacy Ward
Your pre-stretching rountine will depend on your goals.  Everyone will need 5-10 min. to warm up muscles prior to exercise. If you are correcting imbalances and your goals are to increase flexibility you may spend more time working on those areas before moving on to any cardio or strength program. I have my clients spend 5-10min. on a foam roller to work out their tight knots then move on to 5-10min. warm up doing more dynamic stretches.  

Dynamic stretching involves the progressive, active stretch of muscles and joints through a specific range of motion. It involves gradual increased intensity of movement as opposed to static stretching, which involves lengthening a muscle to the end of it’s range and holding the stretch over a period time.

Dynamic stretching is appropriate prior to physical activity, eg. pre-match and pre-training.

Dynamic stretching can be incorporated into the warm up program (5-10MIN.)

The purpose is to condition the muscles for dynamic movement by stretching and warming the muscle groups without lengthening muscle fibers. Dynamic stretching allows the muscles and tendons to be put through a specific range of movement, similar to movements that would occur during your exercise program of the day.

Static stretching is used to increase flexibility in an attempt to gradually increase the length and at the same time relax the muscle fibers. This type is better to incorporated after exercise when the muscles are warmed and supple.

Ex. of dynamic stretch for quadricep muscle would be 30sec butt kicks.

Wendy Batts
There is no magic number when it comes to how long a pre-workout stretching routine should last. In general, however you’ll be doing two to three static stretches as a part of your warm up. If you perform three stretches and hold for 20-30 seconds each, that’ll be about a minute and a half. If you include the self-myofascial release flexibility technique (usually done on a foam roller) for an additional three body parts, this can add 90-180 seconds as well. So, plan on about five minutes for some flexibility work prior to your workout.
Your stretching routine should last for about 5-10 minutes with each stretch lasting about 20-30 seconds.  You can focus on the areas you are going to work on for your workout and then make sure you do a full body stretching routine afterwards.

5 to 10 minutes is sufficient. Concentrate on each muscle group being stretched. Feel the stretch and take it slow. Hold each pose 30 seconds and breathe. Breathe in through your nose and out slowly through your mouth. After 3 breathes you should be able to extend farther.

It will depend on the muscles that you need to stretch, typically 5-10 minutes.  You will want to foam roll your tight muscles and do some static/active stretching (5-30 seconds per muscle depending on whether you are doing a static or active stretch). Just remember that stretching is a good way to help prevent injury.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.