Follow these easy tips to customize stretching before and after exercising, so you can get the most out of your workout and reduce the risk of injury.
Fitness experts previously advised against stretching before a workout, but it turns out short stretches are most effective when combined with other warmup movements, according to a 2016 study in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. Exercisers who followed this method of stretching were less apt to tear or even strain a muscle during their workouts.
Stretching Before and After a Workout
Dynamic Stretching, whole-body poses held for about three to ten seconds, help ramp up your body temp, increase blood flow, and kick your central nervous system into gear before a workout. Try these:
- Walking lunges: Step with your right front leg directly over your ankle at a 90-degree angle, pressing your right heel into the ground. Push off with your left foot and bring it forward. Alternate legs.
- Side lunges: With arms out in front, step right, lower into a side lunge and swing your left leg behind your right leg. Lower your knee close to the ground. Push up to standing with your left leg. Try six to eight reps, then repeat on the other side.
- Glute bridges: Lie flat on the floor on your back with hands by your side, feet should-width apart. Bend your knees. Lift your hips off the floor while keeping your back straight. Holt at the top for one second, then release to the floor.
- Power skipping: Skip as high as you can while raising your opposite arm straight over your head. Repeat with opposite arm and leg. Do 10 reps.
- Butt kicks: Jog in place, keeping your torso straight. Shoot to kick your butt or get your heel up as high as you can.
- Jumping jacks: Revisit your elementary school gym days with this old school yet effective stretch!
- Tight core rotations: Stand with your feet more than hip-width apart. Extend your arms in front with palms together. Rotate your upper body to the right, lining up your arms with your right shoulder. Repeat to the left. Go for 30 to 40 reps.
Static stretching, held for 10 to 30 seconds, targets individual muscles for optimum stretching after a workout. They help cool your body down and improve flexibility. Repeat these simple yet effective stretches four to six times:
- Head bend: Stand straight, stretch your right arm up and bend it against the right side of your head. Pull your head toward your shoulder and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with your left arm.
- Hamstring stretch: Lie on your back, legs straight out, arms by your side. Raise your right foot to the ceiling, keeping your leg straight. Hold for 30 seconds. Then, switch to your left side.
- Quad stretch: Lift and bend your right leg backward. Grab your right ankle with your left hand and pull your right foot toward your butt. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat with your other leg.
- Trunk rotation: To give your abs and hips a great stretch, bend forward as low as you can, then gently move to your right, backwards and left, holding each pose a few seconds.
Incorporate stretching before and after a workout for maximum results. Consult a personal trainer for more types of stretching and a customized plan that works for you!