One of the biggest mistakes we can make is getting in a hurry and forgetting to stretch before and after our workout. Not only is warming up valuable, but it's also essential! It helps prepare your cardiovascular system for your workout by increasing blood flow to muscles and raising your body's temperature. It also helps prevent injury by warming up your muscles, making them contract more forcefully and relax quicker. Your muscles will perform faster and more efficiently, meaning better results during and after your workout. But do you know what stretches you should be doing before your workout?
Dynamic vs. Static
Dynamic stretching is meant to get your body moving and your heart rate up. These stretches are series of challenging motions that are repeated so that the stretch is felt further with each motion. Many dynamic stretches are meant to imitate the exercise you will be doing. They help boost blood flow, activate the central nervous system, increase range of motion, and increase muscle power. Get that heart rate up and going!
- Jogging/ Sprints
- Jumping Rope
- Leg Swings
- Trunk Rotation
- Walking Lunges
- Arm Circles
Static stretching is your slow, deep stretches. Think of your middle school P.E. days where you held side, classic hamstring, and butterfly stretches for what seemed like forever. The focus of static stretching is on lengthening your muscles. You will generally focus on particular muscle groups, like your hamstrings. Static stretches are aimed to help with flexibility and help with preventing injuries as well.
- Butterfly Stretch
- Back Stretch
- Quad Pull
- Standing Hamstring Stretch
- Calf stretch
When to Use Which Stretch
Your dynamic stretches are meant to get your heart rate going and get your body moving. These are going to be used before your workout. It boosts your blood flow, activates the central nervous system, and enhances strength, power, and range of motion.
Static stretches do the opposite of this. These stretches help with recovery through relaxing muscles, reducing blood flow, and decreasing central nervous system activity. Static stretches are great after a workout to help your muscles cool down. Before you take that sweaty gym mirror selfie, don't forget to do a couple static stretches!
6 Quick Dynamic Stretches
Although a warm-up specific to what workout you will be doing is always preferable, the following dynamic stretching circuit includes a broad range of movements that can help prepare your body for your BOMB workout! Perform each move for one minute prior to working out or competing.
1. Shoulder Circle
- Stand tall with your shoulders relaxed and your arms by your sides.
- Slowly roll your shoulders in a circle (forward, up, back, down) for 30 seconds.
- Repeat in the opposite direction
2. Trunk Rotation
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, and your knees slightly bent.
- Keeping your back straight (not arched), raise your arms straight out to your sides, and bend at the elbows.
- Keeping your knees bent, pivot on the ball of your right foot as you rotate your torso to the left and invert the motion to the right.
3. Lunge with Twist
- Lunge forward with your right leg, keeping your knee directly over your ankle and not extending it farther than your ankle.
- Reach overhead with your left arm and bend your torso toward the right side.
- Bring your right leg back to return to an upright standing position. Lunge forward with your left leg.
4. Half Squat
- Stand tall with your arms by your sides and your feet hip- to shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your back flat and core braced, raise your arms straight out in front of you as you push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
- Pause, and then push yourself back up to the starting position.
5. Jog to Quad Stretch
- Start by jogging in place for 2–3 seconds.
- Reach behind one leg to grab hold of one foot to stretch out the quad. Hold for 2–3 seconds.
- Start to jog again for 2–3 seconds.
- Repeat stretch with the other leg.
- Start by standing up with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Lower your upper body until your fingers reach the floor
- Place your hands flat on the floor, then walk your hands forward as far as you can.
- Hold for few seconds in the extended plank position, engaging your core.
- Return to the starting position by walking your hands back to your toes.
No matter what kind of stretch you decide to do, just make sure you are stretching before and after a workout. No one likes sore, tight muscles! You may find your body feels more energized, stretched out, and ready to power you through your workout. So get moving!