Yes you should! Stretching is essential to a work out to help your body prepare for the load ahead and as well as during cool down. Preparing your body for the work ahead will reduce injuries and add to your performance. Exercise physiologist Len Kravitz and Julie Mulcahy, M.P.T., a sports medicine physical therapist both agree on the effects of proper stretching in terms of performance and risk of injuries.
There are two kinds of stretching dynamic and static. Science has determined that both are needed but at different times and have different effects on the body. Static stretching is best to bring your body back to a relaxed state after the activity.
Dynamic stretching before a workout
Dynamic stretching should be done before the activity. It is a form of stretching that involves moving certain parts of the body repeatedly. Each repeated motion should be done for about 8 counts and reverse for another 8 counts. The repeated movements are specifically related to the activity ahead. Lower body stretch for the soccer players and a full body stretch to boxers.
This kind of stretching is a good addition to those warm up as the repeated movements will ready the body for the work load ahead.
Static stretching after a workout
Static stretching is best to bring your body back to a relaxed state after the activity. Static stretching is when you hold a certain position for 20 to 30 seconds like in the case of joint bending. It its non-sports related and will help you put your active muscles back into a relaxed state. This helps your body go back to a state of rest better than when not.
This is a good addition to a cool down routine after all that heavy load and also makes you a bit more flexible for the next session.
Stretching as a form of exercise
Nothing can be a better example of this than a session of Yoga and Tai Chi. Stretching activity like yoga is good as a non-impact form of exercise for those who are prone to bone issues or for those who are too old to do heavy activity. When stretching is done correctly it can let you perform better and lessen injuries you might suffer in the long run.
Stretching during rest or at work will also help you loosen up compressed muscles especially the back, shoulder, and hip muscles. Those three muscle group are always the ones that are stressed when we all go nothing but sit in front of our PC all day.