You should not stretch before the workout and it has nothing to do with cold. There was actually a study showing that stretching reduces the ability of the muscle to contract so you lose a little strength.
As far as i've seen, it's the muscles power that's effected. However, there's also studies showing that stretching doesn't negatively impact power at all.
Plus, the alleged negative effects are only supposed to be temporary, like, a few minutes. So, stretch before you warm up, and it doesn't matter.
This is part of the reason I posted this. You need to watch blanket statements- "you should not stretch before the workout". Let's just say that it DOES affect the performance of the muscle you stretch, is this always a bad thing? If i have overactive hip flexors that inhibit the performance of my glutes (a common problem), wouldn't those alleged negative effects actually be a good thing? Really, I want my hip flexors to be inhibited in some way or another, so that I force better use of the glutes. This technique has been used by therapists (and coaches) for years..
So, to summarise my thoughts - I'm not actually convinced that the alleged negative effects even exist in the first place. Mostly, though, those alleged negatvie effects don't even matter if you stretch before you warm up (when the muscles are cold).
What about stretching after the workout to reduce soreness and/or cramping? I do it, but I don't really know if it does anything.
Well, there's that as well. Most recommendations say, "best tmie to stretch is PW, when the muscles are warm". However, soreness and cramping is an interesting one. I don't believe there's any evidence to support it in the first place - if there is, I would be interested in seeing it. I know that when I was on my whole posture correction mission, I stretched after every single work out. Dropping that all together made no difference to soreness.
I don't know all that much about cramping to be honest. Some muscles trying to over compensate will cramp. Some people tell you that muscle cramps are a result of dehydration. I don't actually know, and i also don't know where the theory that stretchin PW actually came from. Couple that with the fact the we don't actually know very much about DOMS, only that it occurs when you 'do something new', then you've got to wonder who came up with the recommendation that stretching will help DOMS, when they didn't know much or anything about it....
Remember, i'm not saying "DON'T stretch PW". I'm saying that it's wrong to say that this is the best time to stretch. Actually, as it turns out, it could be a less than optimal time to stretch. It doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. I just like to question the norm.