Whether you’re about to start a workout or you have just finished a sweaty gym session its very important to take the time to stretch. Even if it is only for a few minutes, it is very beneficial for your body to allow your muscles to work and recover properly. Stretching can improve your circulation, muscle flexibility and range of motion. When you exercise, your muscles are constantly flexing and contracting. Stretching allows them to relax and lengthen. By stretching more frequently, you are allowing your muscles to become properly prepared to get the maximum engagement during your next workout.
Before stretching it’s important to warm up your muscles and joints. Stretching cold, tight muscles could lead to injury. If you’re at the gym, aim for 5-10 minutes on the stairmaster or incline walking on a treadmill. If you’re at home, try 5 minutes of a variation of marching, running in place, and jumping jacks. The main two types of stretching are static stretching and dynamic stretching. Static stretching is slow and controlled. It is gentle on the muscles and typically done for about 10-60 seconds and repeated 2-3 times. Dynamic stretching is gradual increases in range of motion and speed of movement. Examples of this would be leg swings, arm swings, torso twists, etc. Aim for 10-12 reps of each movement you do.
When you stretch you should feel tightness and a slight burning sensation. Don’t push past that sensation. Sit in the stretch and remember to breathe. With every exhale, try to go a bit deeper into the stretch. Overtime, you will be able to go further and further into each stretch but it’s very important to allow yourself the time to do so. Make it a habit to do this before and/or after every workout. Flexibility is similar to muscle strength, if you don’t use it you lose it. So keep that in mind and try to aim for every other day.
Check out the link below for some of our favorite stretches: