The Different Types of Stretching: Everything You Need to Know
We understand that most people are seriously crunched for time. Sometimes squeezing in a workout during your beyond-busy day seems like a true exercise in futility. Yet, somehow, you still make it happen. Kudos to you! But, now that you’re there, be sure to make the most of it by allowing yourself some time for something too many of us are tempted to overlook: all-important stretching.
When Should I Stretch?
Most people know that stretching is essential to prevent injury, aid in muscle soreness, and keep our muscles limber. But, so many people skimp on stretching (or skip it altogether) because they are pressed for time. Our sound advice? Don’t skip it! Even if it’s just 5-10 minutes before and after your workout, you’ll be glad that you took the time to stretch.
Yes, that’s right before and after your workout.
How Should I Stretch?
Carefully. But seriously, you should know about two types of stretching because when and how you stretch is super important. We’ll break stretching down into two types: “dynamic stretching” and “static stretching.” According to multiple sources, one is best performed before a workout, and one after your gym routine. But, do you know which is which? No worries, that’s what we’re here for.
Dynamic stretching is a type of stretching that requires you to move consistently. And because you’re always moving, it provides a warm-up for the kinds of exercises you will be completing.
Dynamic stretching is meant to mimic the movements of the workout you have planned and can even be considered a warm-up in some cases. Runners, for example, might perform walking lunges or butt kicks to warm up those muscle groups, or you may even see them walking on the treadmill while stretching their arms. They’re revving their engine for the workout to come! Other examples of dynamic stretching include circling your arms, core twists, hip circles, and arm swings.
So, you guessed it—you should begin your workout with dynamic stretching and flexibility exercises.
Benefits of Stretching Before a Workout
Increase Oxygen Flow
When you stretch before a workout, you open up your body for oxygen to have a smooth flow throughout. Opening up your body for a more fluid oxygen flow will leave you with fewer aches and pains when your workout is through. Think of stretching before a workout like it is opening up all of the nooks and crannies of your body to minimize pain in the long run.
When your muscles are ready for the workout they are about to endure, they can last longer. So, giving your muscles 5 – 10 minutes of TLC (tender loving care) will pay off in the long run when you realize that you can run further, lift heavier, and recover quicker than ever before.
We’re guessing you can gather what static stretching is now—right? It’s the form of stretching you imagine when someone talks about it, where you hold your position to relax your muscles and promote flexibility after a workout. So try out different static stretching exercises to enjoy the types of stretching for flexibility.
Using the example of a runner again, static stretching after your workout might look like a calf stretch, toe touches, or hamstring stretches where you hold your pose for 10-30 seconds (or more) in the same position. Some yoga poses are great for a post-workout stretch, like downward dog, child’s pose, and lotus pose.
Benefits of Stretching After A Workout
Minimize Injury and Pain
If you’ve ever played a sport, you’ve undoubtedly been asked to stretch after practice. Maybe you met that request head-on with contempt, but your coaches were helping you to minimize injury, muscle pulls, and strains. If you’ve carried your stretching habits into adulthood, send a little thank you to that coach who helped create your stretching practice.
Some studies suggest that dynamic stretching can bring about long-term performance gains and muscle growth.
There are many more benefits to stretching before and after your workout. Long story short—when you’ve made an effort to make it to the gym, don’t skip stretching and increase your risk of injury. Take the time to get ready for your workout and to enjoy the cool-down. You’ll be so glad that you did. You can try out the different types of stretching at any of our locations. We love to use the turf area for our stretching routines. Stop on in and give it a try.