The most crucial factor in regards to stretching is to always warm up first. As much as we may be used to it, this means not sitting in stretches before barre! A proper warm-up should start with some light aerobic activity (such as a gentle jog around the studio) to increase your core temperature. When you produce a light sweat, it’s time to engage in some dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretching should start slowly and gradually increase in the speed and power of the movement. (See below for an explanation on the different types of stretching). Many Pilates exercises incorporate dynamic stretching, so before class is a good time to do your Pilates routine.
At the end of your cool down after class – when the activity that requires you to be strong and stable has ceased – is a good time to do your static stretches. Believe it or not, stretching to your end-range before class actually reduces strength and stability, as well as increases your risk of injury, so it should be avoided at all costs.