Stretching should not be the sole activity performed during a warm-up before or cool-down after your movement (or exercise) program. Should it be a part of your routine at all?
Most of us have heard to never stretch a cold muscle. The thought that we need to stretch to “warm-up” is still being taught by many coaches even today, despite all the information out there that it does absolutely nothing to prevent injuries or improve performance and may actually increase the chance of injury. A proper warm-up is movement – aerobic movement. You warm up your body by raising your heart rate and literally warming it up while moving it though various ranges of motions. Those ranges should be somewhat in line with what you’re planning on doing. So if you’re about to go for a run, do you really need to be holding some deep hamstring stretch? I don’t think so. Ideally, you start by running slowly, (call it a jog if you’d like though that’s a terrible term as it refers to a jarring type of motion), and for the most part – that’s all you really need to do.
I never stretched or even did any of the movement skills that I do today in my fifteen years of racing Ironman and I wasn’t injured once. That’s because my flexibility was achieved via taking care of my health – my nervous system – through proper training, diet, and all the other factors I’ve previously discussed. If you are planning on doing some more dynamic movements, such as jumping or climbing, then you should still warm up aerobically but also add in various movement patterns that are applicable (functional) to what you’re about to do, much like I discussed in Part III of this series.