You should stretch before and after you work out, but it’s essential to know what type of stretching you should be doing at specific points in your exercise routine. This is because different types of stretching benefit you in different ways.
- Static Stretching: when you hold a stretch for a certain period of time
- Dynamic Stretching: when you move your muscles through their full range of motion
- Ballistic Stretching: when you use momentum to stretch your muscles beyond their natural range of motion
Importance of Stretching
Stretching is not only important before and after a workout, but it is also a crucial habit for all people who want to maintain their mobility. Stretching can:
- Stimulate blood flow
- Promote flexibility
- Decrease risk of injury
- Break down scar tissue or adhesions
- Improve joint dexterity
- Release toxins
- Produce antioxidant effects
- Enable your muscles to be more efficient
- Improve posture
- Reduce stress
- Relieve muscle stiffness
Without consistent stretching, your muscles can become weak, short, and tight. If you try to exercise on tight muscles, they will likely not be able to extend to their full length, leading to a greater risk of joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.
If you are not accustomed to regular stretching, it may help to start by adding yoga or Pilates into your daily routine. You can also try to stretch while performing other activities, such as while watching TV or listening to music.
Stretching Before Your Workout
You should always stretch before working out to warm up your muscles for any upcoming strenuous activity. However, you should never static stretch before a workout because this type of stretching can potentially lead to an injury or inhibit your strength, power, and explosive muscular performance.
Instead, you should make sure that you complete dynamic stretches prior to any workout. A dynamic stretch uses movement to stretch your muscles, which helps prepare the body for the physical demands of a workout. Some examples of dynamic stretching exercises include:
- Jumping jacks
- Arm circles
- Leg swings
- Walking lunges
- Side shuffling
- Walking knee hugs
- Karaoke drills
- Hip circles
- Shoulder rolls
- Calf raises
- High kicks
- Walking quad pulls
Stretching After Your Workout
Although static stretching before you work out is not recommended, static stretching after exercise can be highly beneficial. Static stretching can help improve and maintain your flexibility, as well as stimulate circulation, which delivers nutrients and oxygen to the affected muscles. Some examples of static stretches include:
- Toe touches
- Overhead tricep stretch
- Bicep stretch
- Cobra pose
- Seated butterfly stretch
- Head-to-knee forward bend
- Reclined spinal twist
- Knees to chest
- Hip flexor lunge stretch
- Figure-4 stretch
- Calf stretch
To get the most out of your static stretches, make sure that you don’t bounce when doing them. Bouncing can lead to injuries like pulled muscles and torn ligaments if you accidentally overextend beyond your range of motion. A few other tips to keep in mind when stretching are:
- Hold each pose for about 20 to 30 seconds
- Don’t forget to breathe, which can help relieve tension and allow you to hold the stretch for longer
- Be gentle and use smooth, slow movements
- Don’t stretch beyond what’s comfortable
- Stretch multiple times throughout the day for optimal flexibility
You can also try static stretching with a resistance band. Using a band can be a great way to create more tension and challenge yourself.
Although warming up and cooling down may not seem necessary for every workout, your overall wellbeing and cardiovascular health will thank you in the long run.
Contact Comprehensive Medical Care
At Comprehensive Medical Care, we understand how vital stretching is to your health, which is why we incorporate both static and dynamic stretches throughout several of our services. Contact us today to learn more about how we prioritize your musculoskeletal care so that you can live a pain-free life.