Hey there Kelli,
I’m going to answer the question directly as asked, rather than place judgement on any stretching as you’ve already got that info above 🙂
How long should you stretch? It depends on many things: age, joint ROM and history, workout content through that day and the week, personal goals, etc.
Rather than time, I’d focus on quality dynamic stretching and SMFR before exercise based on what’s being worked. Generally 5 minutes is enough, some people like to spend more time. Very individual.
I’d say be present to what feels really good and helps with your workouts, and what doesn’t.
After workouts a couple static stretches for some people is important to help hamstrings, spine, etc. However, others who are VERY flexible and have ROM exercises within the workout, I wouldn’t even bother. Those individuals are already flexible and usually need more stability and strength work.
I am very pleased to see that the vast majority of answers do not say that stretching is un-necessary. The first answer was very good, so I will only add this.
Yes, stretch prior to an activity to have the ROM that is required. You may need to do this by prolonging the warm up and using similar movements to those you will be performing. Or if you are already working out and find a joint/muscle ROM to be lacking or restrictive/uncomfortable, do a quick stretch for that joint/muscle. If the issue doesn’t resolve with the stretch, I would stop attempting that exercise/activity. You can do something else or you can end the training session and do a more complete stretch.
Now. Every workout should end with a solid and complete stretch of at least all of the joints/muscles involved in the focus of the workout. Time permitting, stretch all of the major muscles. It doesn’t have to be a long time, but each joint should be taken to the necessary ROM of the activity or to at least attempting to achieve an improved ROM for those with ROM deficits. And the stretches are held for 10 to 30 seconds at least 2 times, 3 times is better. If you don’t understand how to stretch, find some that does understand and pay them to teach you. If you want to come to Hawaii, I would be glad to teach you. My classes qualify for CEC credit with all of the major cert providers.
For those of you who feel stretching is un-necessary. What do you tell your clients with low back issues? Your clients with performance goals? What would you tell an athlete, dancer, weekend warrior? The stduies that most of the “no stretch” voices are quoting actually did not ever state that stretching is not needed. They said that stretching for improved ROM that is to affect the persons day to day ROM should be done at the end of the workout. This type of stretching prior to a workout reduced performance in the studies that were being done and/or reviewed. The vast bulk of research clearly demonstrates that stretching should be consider part of every workout/exercise program. And if you are a fitness professional and not teaching your clients how to stretch, you need to refer them to someone who can. Omitting this information is very unprofessional.
If you don’t believe me, find the entire study you think said otherwise and read the entire study or at least the actually summary. A sound bite is not solid information for forming an opinion.
I’m not fan of stretching (static). As for my clients if they wish to perform any type of stretching, I leave it up to them. For many years now I have followed this philosophy and I have never encountered any issues or problems because of it (same goes for my clients). There are different types of thoughts as far stretching goes and since the research on this topic it’s ongoing, I can’t say which one is better other than to rely on my own experience.
I would recommend doing dynamic stretching before your training session instead of static stretching. This keeps your contractile force in your muscle high for your workout while warming them up to do “work”.
Post- Workout I would recommend 20-30 seconds of static or proprioceptive stretching of each muscle group you used for the session. If you are stretching for corrective purposes, I recommend do 2-3 sets of static stretching on the overly tight muscle that may be causing the deviation.
Research shows (I don’t know the study, but I’ve heard it several times from a PT with a PhD) that at least 10 seconds is needed. Longer helps, but the highest bang for your buck is 10 seconds. If you have time to hold longer then do that. I make sure I get in a lot of stretches of 10 seconds and then go again and longer when I have time on particularly tight muscles.