There are several misconceptions regarding stretching so let’s get things straight:
Stretching is most effective when the body is warm; otherwise it may have a negative effect and can in fact cause a weakening of the muscles by between 8-10% .
So stretching is ok prior to sport or activity providing you have done a warm up.
The best time to stretch is post exercise!
After activity the muscles and tendons can shorten and if not stretched you will start your next session with stiffened muscles and really feel like you need to stretch extra hard to loosen them. The best way to prevent this is by stretching after activity which will also have benefits for a quicker recovery.
It’s important to stretch the muscles specific to your needs or sports. For instance what a cyclist may need to do would be completely different to that of a swimmer. A cyclist would need to pay a lot of attention to the thigh and mid back muscles whilst the swimmer would obviously need to pay attention to shoulder muscles.
Stretching should always be done in safe postures that don’t compromise other parts of your body. For e.g. many hamstring stretches may cause harm to your lower back. Best to always check with a properly trained Health Professional if in doubt.
Some people who are highly flexible may need to do little or no stretching. This is due to the type of collagen they were born with. Collagen is a protein that largely makes up our muscles and tendons and consists roughly of 4 types, ranging from inflexible to hypermobile. So if you are highly flexible no need to waste your time stretching, do some core exercises!