Stretching both before and after exercise is important, but what is more important is the type of stretching being performed. The reason an individual should stretch before exercise is to gain more flexibility and range of motion in their muscles, as this will lessen the chance of experiencing an injury while exercising.
The important thing to know about stretching is that there are different types of stretching; static stretching and dynamic stretching. Static stretching involves more traditional stretches such as bending over and touching your fingers to your toes, while dynamic stretching involves warming up the muscles to improve flexibility such as a sideways shuffle, or lunges.
Before taking a jog or other exercise routine try these stretches to help the muscles warm up. Leg swings; with one foot planted firmly on the ground, allow the other leg to swing freely forwards and backwards, gradually increasing the height of the swinging leg which will loosen up the muscles around the hip area and allow ease of movement. Torso turns; with your arms loose at your sides and your hips firmly planted twist your torso from side to side to promote flexibility in the lower back area.
Static stretches are best for after the jog or other exercise routine is completed. Static stretches help to loosen and relax the muscles that were tightened by the exercise performed. This is why doing a static stretch before exercise is not a good idea; relaxing the muscle then asking it to perform is just an injury waiting to happen. A good static exercise is bending over and touching the toes to stretch the hamstrings and calves, or sitting on the ground and touching your toes which will stretch the back muscles as well.
Most individuals who exercise are going to experience an injury at some point and a physical therapist is the one who can help with that. They will be able to assess the injury and devise a plan for treating the injury that will have you back on your feet and exercising again. Leaving an injury untreated can lead to further problems down the road and possibly turn into a chronic disorder. Chiropractors are another source of relief for those who have experienced sports injury as they do not use drugs to treat injury and can relieve issues of lower back pain and discomfort in the hip area.
Stretching both before and after exercise is as important as the exercise itself for long term health, increased flexibility, and lessening the chance of sports related injuries.