Warming up and stretching are two important aspects of exercise that many people forget about completely. In eagerness to get on with a workout and then finish, people often miss out these two essential components. However, you shouldn’t just do it any old how! There’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it, and studies suggest that stretching and jumping up and down before a workout, along with similar movements can decrease power and strength, not allowing a workout to reach its full potential. Here’s how to do it properly so you can avoid injury during your workout:
Warm Up First
To improve your range of motion and avoid injury, stretching is needed but you shouldn’t ever do it when your muscles are cold. You should always start any workout with a mild aerobic warm up to get blood to the tissue before you do any stretching at all.
Do a brisk walk, or jog slowly for about 5 minutes instead of stretching before your exercise. Your blood flow will then increase, helping to get your muscles ready for your workout.
Once you’ve warmed up, you can do dynamic stretches – not static stretches!
A dynamic stretch is a slow, controlled movement rather than staying still and holding a stretch. For example, you might do arm circles, hip rotations, yoga movements, walking, or jogging. The only other important thing to remember is that you need good form and technique to avoid injury.
Dynamic Stretching Examples
You can practice neck flexion and a dynamic stretch, rotating it and holding to the left/right. Also try side bends, half squats, leg swings, lunges, etc. Also try flexing, extending and rotating your…
- Trunk and shoulder blades
- Feet and toes
Once you’ve finished your workout, you can move on to static stretches. The majority of people think they should do a bit of static stretching before and then nothing after, but this is wrong! Static stretches after a workout will help to reduce injury and aches and pains by lengthening your muscles and improving your flexibility. Hold these stretches for about 30 seconds for maximum effect.
You should never, ever stretch to the point of it being painful. You definitely don’t want pain when you’re doing dynamic stretching, as it should be very gentle to begin with. When it’s time to stretch afterwards, you can allow slight discomfort to improve your flexibility. However, if you find it too painful, your muscles are probably contracting to protect themselves and this will hinder your progress. If you’re still in pain after exercising regardless of the fact you’re following this advice, you may find that you have a condition like osteoarthritis that needs addressing.
It’s important that anybody serious about becoming healthier through exercise practices these techniques in order to avoid injury. Rushing a workout by avoiding the proper techniques of stretching/warming up will only hinder your progress in the long run. Thanks for reading!