Warming up is there to prepare you for a physical activity:
Stretching is there to help your muscles regenerate after this workout.
So, first do the warm up, then exercise, then do the stretching.
Stretching cold muscles is not a good idea and can lead to an injury. Stretching improves muscular coordination, enhances the level of blood circulation and reduces level of muscle tissue tension.
When you stretch focus on the muscles that were involved in the exercise that ended. In Pilates we work multiple muscle groups, so it is very important to stretch both sides of the body and to do it slowly and smoothly.
How long do I hold a stretch?
You must know how long to do the stretching. Don’t do it until you feel pain because you will experience a degree of muscle soreness for a few days. The stretching must be done until you feel tension in the involved muscles. Stop when you feel this. America studies found that stretching for less than 1 minute has no effect on the muscle, so the longer you hold it, the better the stretch.
When do I avoid stretching?
When you have an already strained muscle or ligament; when a sharp pain is felt in a joint or muscle and when a joint or a muscle is infected, inflamed or injured.
The American College of Sports Medicine advises us how to do stretching: 2 to 3 days per week, holding each stretch for 10-30 seconds and performing 3-4 repetitions per stretch.