étirement avant ou après l'effort

Should you stretch before or after exercise?


It is one of the most controversial subjects related to running and difficult to decide about. However, it is often recommended that you limit stretching exercises to a few specific situations.


Stretching before exercise? Best not.

When it comes to stretching, amateur athletes generally think of static stretches. And these are not advised. When held for a long time they cause a squeezing in the muscle that interrupts the blood flow, the opposite of the desired “vascularising” effect.

The other negative consequences of static stretching before exercise are:

. They send the athlete to sleep in the short term by causing a reduction in their strength of will and neuro-muscular awareness.

. They have an analgesic effect and increase the pain threshold of the muscle fibres, the result being to potentially hide tissue damage, leading to more serious injuries.

. In extreme cases - when the duration or extension is "exaggerated" - they can trigger micro-injuries and even have a negative effect on motor coordination.

On the other hand, dynamic stretches are advised before exercise to get the muscle back into a plyometric state.


Stretching after exercise? Yes!

Very few runners stretch at the end of a long and often intense training session. Their muscles and tendons have been mistreated and it seems “instinctively” better to leave them in peace rather than force often painful exercises on them.

However, stretches are beneficial after exercise if they are performed at the start of the elastic phase (once the feeling of stretching is felt) with the sole aim of returning the muscle to its resting length. They are never performed with the aim of gaining elasticity. They may be coupled with passive joint manipulations performed by another person in order to realign the tissues.


Stretches to aid recovery? No.

On this point physiotherapists are blunt: When held for a long time at maximum extension, stretches can block the return of blood flow, which is needed for recovery, and aggravate micro-injuries.

Other techniques appear to be more appropriate: contrast baths (hot and cold), electrical stimulation, massages or even a bike session.

Warning: it is important to eat properly – ensuring a good carbohydrate intake – immediately after prolonged exercise in order to replenish your energy reserves and speed up the recovery process.


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