Stretching: When & How?

     Love it or hate it, we all need to stretch. People severely underestimate the benefits and need for weekly (if not daily) stretching. And some of you may believe that your goals won’t be affected by stretching (i.e. muscle gain, increased endurance, weight loss, etc.), but it’s time to break that line of thinking. So before we talk about the differences between different types of stretching, the overall benefits of stretching are:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Better range of motion
  • Decreased risk of injury
  • Warmed up muscles for exercise
  • Smooth/lean muscles

     So now that you know how stretching can affect your body and your workouts, here are just a few of the different types of stretching—we’ll go into the others at a later date—and when they are most effectively used.

  1. Static: holding a stationary position
    • Static stretching is best used in combination with dynamic stretching before a workout, and is also helpful when used as a cool down after a workout.
  2. Dynamic: active movements utilizing the body’s natural range of motion
    • Dynamic stretching is best used before a workout as a way to loosen up the joints and warm the muscles gradually.
  3. Ballistic: short, bouncing movements attempting to force the joints beyond their normal range of motion
    • Ballistic stretching is dangerous and potentially damaging to both the muscles and joints, and it should not be used at all (unless supervised by a fitness professional).
  4. Self-Myofascial Release: foam rolling
    • We talked about foam rolling in a previous blog post and how it can benefit you when used both before and after a workout (or any day!).

     Although your stretching routine should vary depending on what type of workout you are doing (i.e. cardio vs. weightlifting), there are a few “staple” stretches that you can include in your workout routine. These are just a few examples of stretches to use on your next workout day.

  • Resistance workout:
    • Before:
      • Walking lunges, arm circles, elbow pull, quad heel pull, hip swings, front bend
    • After:
      • Foam rolling (calves, quads, hamstrings, back), child’s pose, back arch, quad heel pull, front bend
  • Cardio workout:
    • Before:
      • Jumping jacks, foam rolling (calves, quads, hamstrings), arm circles
    • After:
      • Foam rolling (calves, quads, hamstrings), quad heel pull, front bend

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