Like most fitness instructors, I’m always taking courses and studying exercise physiology and anatomy, and this week I’ve been looking at stretching. What’s made it difficult is that no one seems to agree! Science seems to be ever changing and sometimes it's hard to keep up! Have you noticed that as soon as a study tells you to eat a particular food or do a particular exercise, then there's another, newer study that reports that eating that food or doing that exercise is the worst possible thing you could do to yourself? Until around 15 years ago, it was thought best to do static stretches before exercising, however this is now proven not to be beneficial and can actually reduce strength and increase injuries. It seems that muscles benefit more from “dynamic stretching” before exercise – this is why I always include dynamic stretches such as twists, shoulder rolls, hamstring curls and squats in your warm ups. And now some researchers think that stretching after working out doesn’t help the muscles recover… and doesn't stop muscle soreness either! What is certain is that stretching after exercising increases blood flow to your muscles, prevents future injuries and improves your flexibility so I’ll certainly be keeping our stretches at the end of every class – and isn’t it a lovely way to end the session!