Warming up before a workout is critical for optimizing performance and preparing mentally for the activity ahead. In recent years however, there has been a shift in the fitness industry for how best to approach your workout prep. Although still a hot topic, a light cardio warm up accompanied by dynamic stretching has replaced traditional static stretching before exercise in many cases.
What Is Static Stretching?
Static stretching simply means moving a muscle to the end of its range of motion. Then, it is held for a set period of time (about 30 seconds) to help increase overall flexibility. Static stretches should be performed post-workout, as doing them beforehand may negatively affect your training, as they potentially decrease strength, power and explosiveness.
What Is Dynamic Stretching?
Dynamic stretching is active movements of muscle to move joints through their full range of motion. Unlike static stretches, dynamic stretches are not held in position. As with anything in life, the timing of your type of stretches to perform is everything.
Incorporating dynamic stretches pre-workout may improve performance including speed, agility, acceleration and strength. This makes dynamic stretching pre-workout the ideal choice to get both your body and mind ready for the workout ahead.
Below are 3 dynamic stretches you may want to incorporate into your next warm-up.
Vital Note: This article has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Your licensed healthcare professional can best provide you with the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and assist you as well in deciding whether a dietary supplement will be a helpful addition to your regimen.
1. Leg Swing
Begin in a standing position and slowly raise your left leg off of the ground. In a controlled motion, swing your left leg in front of you as high as you are able and then back behind you. You will take the movement through your full range of motion for several minutes. Once completed, repeat the stretch on your right leg.
2. Walking Lunge
Step forward with your left foot and lower your right knee until it is nearly touching the ground. Pushing through the heel of your foot, step your right leg forward, passing the left foot and landing far in front of you. Perform these lunges with body weight for several minutes.
3. Inch Worm
Begin standing with your feet hip width apart. Place your hands on the floor in front of you by hinging at the hips. Walk your hands forward until your hands are below your shoulders and you are in a full high plank position. Slowly walk your hands back towards your feet until you are in the upright standing position. Perform these movements for several minutes.
While static stretches may not necessarily be the ideal choice pre-workout, they are suited perfectly to be a part of your cooldown. Here, your body is already warm from your workout with increased blood flow to the muscle tissues. This makes the cool down period post-workout, a prime time for static stretching.
Below are 3 static stretches that you may want to incorporate into your cooldown routine.
1. Lunging Psoas Stretch
Begin in a lunge position with your left knee on the ground. Your right knee will be bent with your right foot on the ground in front of you. Move your hips as far forward as you are able ensuring your left knee stays in place. Keep your torso and chest upright and hold the position.
2. Butterfly Stretch
Begin by sitting on the ground with your knees bent in front of you. Bring the soles of your feet together with your knees opening to your sides. Holding your feet, lean forward placing your elbows on top of your knees. Slowly push the knees towards the floor and hold the position.
3. Child's Pose
Begin by kneeling on the ground with your feet behind you and knees wider than shoulder width apart. Sit back on to your heels and lean forward bringing your torso to rest on your thighs. With your arms fully extended, rest your forehead on the ground in front of you. Slowly press your shoulders to the ground and hold this position.
Both static and dynamic stretches should be part of your training sessions. Stretching is a vital component of fitness, helping increase overall flexibility, range of motion and quality of life. Making the time in your routine both pre- and post-workout will be well worth your effort.
Heather Marr is an N.Y.C.-based personal trainer and The Model Trainer Method creator, whose A-list client roster includes some of the world’s most famous supermodels. Ahead, she shares why it’s important to do dynamic stretches before working out.