Everyone should be performing stretches both before and after training, but the types of stretches vary. Now those who work out regularly need to stretch even more for better muscle recovery and training performance. You are going to be given a variety of stretches to utilize in your training program.
You can perform each one every day if you wanted to, or just use them from time to time in order to have a great mix of stretches each day. Let’s take a look at the two primary types of stretches first and foremost.
Dynamic Stretches and Static Stretches
These are the names for the two primary stretches you may have encountered while playing sports in school or even just being in regular gym class. Each stretch has its own use for training programs, so pay close attention to know what other stretches you perform apply to which type.
First, there’s the dynamic stretch coming in at the beginning of your workout. These are recommended before training because they increase the blood flowing to your muscles and “lubricate” your joints as well.
People often assume you use too much energy doing this, but on the contrary, they are actually more beneficial for increasing strength for the exercises to come. Examples of dynamic stretches are butt kicks, high knees, pendulum swings, and karaoke’s. These are also called active stretches as well.
Then we also have static stretches, which are the stretches where you get into a position and hold it for around 30 seconds. These are to be performed post workout instead of pre because they have been found to decrease muscle strength when executed before any workout routine.
However, static stretches are good after a workout because they increase muscle recovery by helping reduce the inflammation of muscles. Plus the increased blood flow from static stretches brings extra nutrients to replenish what has been lost and repair damage muscle proteins.
This is a great dynamic stretch that prepares the core of your body and hips for better workout performance. Exercises such as squats and deadlifts benefit greatly from this stretch being performed because they help get your hip flexors and glutes warmed up.
You perform this exercise by lying down on your back with legs fully extended and feet together. Simply raise your legs up until they are in the air, and then swing your feet down to the left and right keeping your torso facing forward.
The Squatting Groin Stretch
Your groin muscle is easy to become tight and knotted after workouts especially when you perform squats. In this case you want a static stretch that will help reduce the pain in this area and keep the blood flowing to prevent more muscle stiffness. The execution is easy to perform.
Simply squat all the way down with heels close together and arms on the inside of your legs. Press your arms against the inside of your thighs to increase the intensity of the stretch against your groin muscle. You will definitely feel good following this stretch.
Side Lunge to Heel Touch
This sounds like an actual exercise in your workout, but this is actually just a dynamic stretch as well without any free weights being used. The stretch is intended to fully warm up your hamstrings, hip flexors, and lower back. However, all muscles are technically getting a great stretch with this one.
All you do is stand with feet close together, and then step to the side and lunge towards that direction by guiding your hand to the foot being stepped outwards.
Here comes another active stretch your way, since they are more beneficial for you anyways. The chest opener stretch is great for any training day, but most would insert this on a chest or shoulder based workout. Again, you can perform this any day you want.
This stretch is also good because it helps an issue plaguing us, which is having our shoulder rolled forward and hunching. This is quite common, and the chest opener stretch helps open your “closed” chest back up to reduce shoulder stiffness.
The Straight Leg Hang
This stretch is pretty notorious for being performed, but needs to be noted for those who do not perform this movement. The straight leg hang is great for loosening up your hamstrings and lower back muscle along with your hips as well. The movement is simple, but again do not perform static stretches before working out.
You perform this by placing your feet together and toe forward. Then slower lower your head and chest down until you feel a pull against your hamstring. Try to reach further if possible until full stretch has been achieved.
Stretching is Great for Your Body
Stretching seems to still not be executed right because the ones who find this kind of stuff out are not telling the population enough. This leaves everyone in the dark still performing the same stuff as 10 years ago. Even a lot of schools still teach perform static stretches before a race, which would stiffen up those hamstrings and put them to sleep.
So always remember dynamic stretches before working out to get your heart rate up and body ready for training. Then static stretches to essentially put your muscles to sleep for recovery. Stretching will definitely increase the flexibility of your body and muscles and will help you recover quicker! So let’s start stretching!
Author Bio: Demmy James is a fitness buff who loves inspiring people to reach their health and fitness goals. He is also a content contributor at Muscle & Strength.