For some, touching your toes for a few seconds following a jog on the treadmill is plenty. It turns out that there is more to stretching than we think. The ‘how’ and ‘when’ of stretching may have the ability to make or break your fitness goals.
In a typical work out or practice session it is essential that we incorporate stretches into our warm up and cool down. Stretching before activity prepares all the body’s systems for physical exertion and helps reduce the risk of injury.
So what kind of stretches are involved in an effective warm up? Recent studies have suggested that dynamic stretches are best before exercise, as opposed to static stretches, which are typically held in the same position for roughly 30 seconds and have been proven to be more beneficial when performed after sport. Static stretching is also great to improve your flexibility on non training days.
Dynamic stretches are active movements that mimic your work out or sport. These moves usually involve a progressive increase in range of motion and speed of movement. A typical warm up should include 5 – 10 minutes of jogging, followed by 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching specifically targeting muscles and joints that will be used in the athletic event. Some examples of dynamic stretches include butt kicks, walking lunges, arm circles, trunk rotations, high knees and squats.
For those that want to improve their flexibility, spend 10-15 minutes a day holding some static poses and another 5-10 on a foam roller and you’ll notice a dramatic change in your muscle and joint flexibility within a few weeks. Make this part of your daily routine and you may even find a reduction in recovery time after activity and spend less time with soft tissue injuries. Sounds pretty good right?
Check out this youtube video for a great warm-up routine as well.