If you like to workout, you are probably used to doing a few stretches before getting into your workout routine, and maybe throw in a few after to cool down. While stretching is absolutely important to incorporate in your workout, it is vital to understand how and when to stretch. Here are some stretching tips:
Let’s start with the two most popular types of stretching: static stretching and dynamic stretching. Static stretching is the more commonly known stretching that typically involves slow, singular movements held in place for about 30 seconds. Static stretching is most important for increased flexibility. On the other hand, dynamic stretching involves multiple motions that are repeated for the full benefit of the stretch and the muscle movement.
How should you stretch and warm up before a workout?
Research proves that static stretching before exercise actually negatively impacts your workout, and should ultimately be avoided. According to this study, static stretching before working out can lead to running slower and lifting lighter weights. The logic behind this is simply that stretching certain muscles in a slow fashion while they are not fully warmed up is not effective, specifically in terms of injury prevention and an improved workout.
The best thing to do before a workout is to warm up and activate your muscles! The key to an effective warm up is making sure to incorporate dynamic stretching and light cardio. Firstly, dynamic stretching can decrease the likelihood of injuries as the combination of movement and flexibility activates your muscles. Some essential dynamic stretches include walking lunges, butt kicks, arm circles or leg kicks. Although some of these moves certainly overlap with an initial cardio boost within your warm up, some other cardio options may include jumping jacks, light jogging, fast walking or high knee twists.
Okay, so where does static stretching come into play?
Once you have finished your workout, classic static stretches such as the butterfly pose, touching your toes, and lengthening your arms can be highly beneficial. Static stretching after a hard workout has been proven to improve joint flexibility and range of motion. Further, there are actually studies proving that static stretching after a workout can improve blood flow to your limbs, helping your muscles recover faster from the exercise. Also, static stretching can add a sense of calmness to your workout, as it is a slow and relaxing way to finish off. For further health benefits of stretching, click here!
We are all so often crunched for time, but making sure our muscles are properly taken care of to prevent injury is certainly not a waste of time. However, it is also just as important to understand how and when to stretch. By following these stretching tips you can effectively keep your body healthy and happy!