As a competitive athlete in track, rugby and triathlons, I have always noticed considerable confusion related to stretching and warming up. Here is how to be safe without wasting time.
Is stretching considered warming up?
No. Unless you are doing hot yoga, stretching generally does not warm up the body. You need to raise the temperature of your body. Easier movements that get the heart and lungs pumping are more effective for warming up. Lunges will wake up the legs. Push ups will the get the upper body firing.
Should I stretch before I exercise?
No. You are better off warming up the body with some easier movements. Have a good stretch after your exercise when your body is warm and far more likely to make gains. Competitive athletes who generally have more time will warm up, then stretch, then compete.
Is stretching after exercise the most effective?
Yes. You will notice your muscles go further after a good workout or later in the day. Competitive athletes will warm down with easier exercises after a big workout then stretch. The worst thing is to go from exercise and blood pumping to sitting at your desk. Don’t miss the window to make flexibility gains.