If I am trying to gain muscle, do I need to stretch before a workout?

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Yes, but it will require a specific type of stretching. The body is a dynamic, functional machine which works in all planes of motion, and, in many cases, has all sorts of postural problems. To help safely progress through a training program, you need to address the muscles based on your posture. For example, if you look in the mirror and your shoulders are rounded forward, you can assume that the muscles in the front (chest) are slightly shorter the muscles in the back (muscles in between the shoulder blades). If you have this rounded shoulder look, you will want to begin a program to fix this problem. If you do not, you risk chance of injury, and no one ever reaches their goal if they are hurt. To begin, you will want to develop a program which consists of static stretching for the muscles in the chest. A static stretch is when you take a muscle to a point of tension and hold for at least 20 seconds. This will decrease the impact the nervous system has on that specific area. It will decrease the force production capabilities of the chest. This will allow you to work the muscles in the back better and help correct your posture. However, some wonder why would you want to decrease the force production capabilities of a muscle. It may initailly seem counterintuitive, but this stretching will improve posture, decrease risk of injury, and ultimately improve performance. When stretching, the initial goal is to create balance. Once you have this balance, you are ready to increase the load intenisty on your muscles. Once you have corrected any balance problems, you will progress to a form of flexibility called active flexibility. Active flexibility is when you use opposing muscles to take a joint through all available range of motion. There is no long hold, you simply move back and forth with a minimal hold (maybe 1 to 2 seconds) for 5 to 10 repetitions. This helps to warm the muscles up and move the joint without decreasing the force production capabilities of a muscle. It is important to always end an exercise session with static stretching to help lengthen the muscles back to a normal, resting state.

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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.