Benefits of StretchingStretching is not only necessary to prepare your body for exercise, but it also offers significant other benefits, including:
- Increased flexibility
- Stimulated blood flow
- Improved athletic performance
- Managed stress
- Decreased risk of injury
- Enhanced mobility
- Reduced muscle stiffness
- Strengthened joints
- Improved posture
Dynamic Stretching vs. Static StretchingThere are two primary types of stretching: static and dynamic. People may be more apt to participate in static stretching alone, but dynamic stretching can be more beneficial before a workout. Let’s take a look at the difference between these two types of stretching:
Dynamic stretches are performed by moving your body through a range of motions. These stretches provide a way to practice movement patterns of the activity that you are about to do. Numerous studies have indicated that dynamic stretching can enhance athletic performance and power before a workout.
Static stretches are performed by stretching as far as possible without straining and holding the position for a period of time, usually 30 to 90 seconds. This type of stretching doesn’t warm up the muscles, but it does promote flexibility. Static stretching is great for the end of a workout to cool down and reduce muscle soreness.
Easy Dynamic Warm-Up StretchesHere are some effective and dynamic warm-up stretches to try the next time you work out:
Lunges are a great warm-up exercise that can help improve your balance, strength, and range of motion. To lunge:
- Stand with your feet together
- Step your right foot forward and bend your knee to a 90-degree angle
- Make sure your right knee does not extend over your toes
- Bend your left knee until it’s nearly touching the ground, at about a 90-degree angle
- Keep your back straight
- Repeat with the other leg
You can lunge in place by alternating legs and returning to a standing position between sets, or you can do walking lunges for a set distance, then turn around and work your way back to your starting point.
Similar to lunges, side—or lateral—lunges are another optimal dynamic stretch that can warm up your glutes, quads, and hamstrings before a workout. To side lunge:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart
- Step to your right and bend your knee to a 90-degree angle or as low as possible for your range of motion
- Keep your left leg straight
- Once your right knee is over your toes, pause briefly to feel the stretch
- Return your right foot to its starting position
- Repeat with your other leg
Squats are another warm-up exercise that can effectively prepare your lower body for a workout. To do a squat:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart
- Bend your knees and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground
- Keep your knees aligned with your ankles
- Stand up and repeat for the desired number of reps
Mountain climbers are an ideal warm-up stretch because they activate and engage the entire body, including your core, shoulders, quads, glutes, and hamstrings. To do mountain climbers:
Start in a high plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders, your feet together, and your body in a straight line from your head to your heels
Keeping your core engaged, bring your left knee up to your chest, then return it to the starting position
Quickly switch your legs back and forth, so your right leg moves forward as your left leg moves back
Make Stretching a Part of Your RoutineStretching should be an essential part of your exercise routine. Incorporating dynamic stretching and warm-up exercises prior to beginning a workout will help your muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints be more responsive during your movement. After your workout, static stretching of your warm muscles will help prevent muscle soreness, helping to keep you prepared for your next workout.
At The Steadman Clinic, we’re committed to keeping people active and performing the sports and activities they love. Should you experience an injury, be sure to contact The Steadman Clinic, so we can get you back to doing what you love, safely and quickly.