Updated: Mar 21
Stretching has traditionally been part of many workout routines during the warm-up and recovery phases. As a result, many people believe that yoga, which incorporates stretching, is a great addition to a workout routine.
But as more and more studies have been conducted on the role of stretching in exercise routines, there has been an ongoing debate about whether stretching is beneficial or not.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the two types of stretching and what the experts say about stretching and exercise. As well as whether you should do yoga before or after workout.
As a yoga instructor, I believe yoga has its place in fitness routines and our lives. However, I also believe it’s important to understand the role of the practice in relation to your overall fitness goals.
So let’s dig into the topic and find out if you should do yoga before or after a workout.
Table of Contents
Should You Do Yoga Before Or After Workout?
Dynamic vs. Static Stretching
Before we dive into the main topic, let's understand the difference between dynamic and static stretching first.
According to Cleveland Clinic, dynamic stretching is a type of stretching that involves moving joints and muscles through sports-specific motions. Exercises like torso twists, walking lunges, and leg swings are examples of dynamic stretches .
You do this type of stretching to rehearse movement patterns of the exercise or the sport you are about to do so you can warm up your muscles in a pattern of movement.
Static stretching is a movement that involves stretching and then holding the stretch for 30 to 90 seconds. Deep stretch, yin and restorative yoga usually incorporates static stretching.
So, should you do yoga before a workout? Let's find out.
Doing Yoga Before a Workout
Since dynamic stretching is based on movement, it is a great warm-up exercise. It helps loosen your muscles, so they are ready for action.
Performing dynamic stretching pre-workout can help avoid hamstring muscle injuries, improve flexibility and optimize your performance .
But how about static stretching?
Studies show that performing static stretching like yoga before a workout can drop your ability to produce muscle force by up to 4.6% .
According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, static stretching has a negative effect on force production, power performance, strength endurance, reaction time, and running speed. Researchers also reported that pre-event static stretching reduced the sprint performance in collegiate track-and-field athletes by 3%.
This is not to say that you should remove static stretching from your exercise program; there is still a role for static stretching.
You can still perform static stretches if you hold it for 15 to 30 seconds, not more than that. You can also perform short static stretches as a part of a dynamic warm-up .
Since pre-workout static stretching reduces your force production, it is not recommended to do yoga before a workout, especially if you plan to do weight lifting.
If you plan to incorporate yoga or static stretching as a warm-up routine, it is best to consult your doctor or fitness coach first.
Doing Yoga After a Workout
Since we've established that static stretching like yoga may not be a good idea before a workout. Let's also check if the same is true for cooldown exercises.
According to Penn Medicine, there are three phases of a healthy cool down after running. The immediate phase happens after you run when you have elevated heart rate levels and fatigued muscles.
The second phase is when your muscles are no longer fatigued, and your heart rate slows down a bit. Then, the final phase is when your heart rate levels are almost at their resting pace.
Penn Medicine says that doing static stretching during the third phase of the cool-down is most beneficial. Static stretching during this phase help prevent stiff joints and tight muscles and improves flexibility.
In fact, they recommended doing basic yoga poses during the late cooldown phase.
A 2014 study also states that static stretching is an effective method to decrease muscle stiffness.
Another study also states that yoga must be considered as a recovery method as it may contribute to physical and mental health performance outcomes. Furthermore, it recommends using yoga as a mandated recovery approach if evidence of overtraining, injury, burnout, anxiety, and depression is observed among the college athletic departments.
These studies suggest that you can perform yoga after a workout. However, not everyone has the same lifestyle, health conditions, and workout routines.
So before practicing yoga in addition to your workout, it is best to seek the advice of a doctor and work with a yoga instructor. It is best to ask for advice from the experts to know how to implement yoga into your routine properly and also to ensure your safety.
Doing Yoga as a Workout
How about doing yoga as a workout? What are the benefits?
A 2011 study found that the practice of yoga has the following benefits:
It strengthens your muscles.
It enhances your body's flexibility.
It is beneficial to your heart and lungs.
It reduces stress and anxiety.
It can help improve your sleep patterns.
It reduces chronic pain.
It improves your quality of life.
Although, there is a debate about whether you should do yoga before or after a workout. Doing yoga as a workout can help improve your quality of life.
As with any exercise program, you should consult your doctor and work with a trainer before starting any new activity.
FAQs about yoga before or after workout
Should You Do Yoga Before Or After Running?
Penn Medicine recommends doing basic yoga poses during the late cooldown phase after you run. A health and fitness expert from the ACSM's health and fitness journal also recommends doing two 30-second static stretches of eight different exercises focusing on your lower back and legs after you run.
Should You Do Yoga Before Or After Weights?
According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, static stretching has a negative effect on force production, power performance, strength endurance, reaction time, and running speed. So it is not recommended to do yoga before lifting weights.
What to do next?
I hope this blog has given you some food for thought and a clear idea of how to incorporate yoga into your fitness routine. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments section below.
If you need guidance on how to get started with yoga, I am happy to help.
About the Author
Co-Author: Irish Doton
Alexa Hanshaw is a health and stress management coach who helps women be the CEO of their stress. She empowers her clients to push past the confusion of the health and wellness industry to create lifestyle habits that bring them energy and work with their bodies instead of against it.
Join her free Facebook group, Be the CEO of Your Stress and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube for quick, easy & healthy tips on stress, health, fitness, nutrition, sleep, and how to stay mindful!