- Do you ever wonder why so many fitness professionals, coaches, and programs insist that you need to stretch before and after working out?
- Or that a recovery session should last at least ten minutes?
- Or that you should hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds?
- Or that you should do a specific type of static stretch before and after dynamic stretches?
Interested in a recovery session? Here’s a read that might help you out! Why Recovering from A Workout Is So Important – 6 Ways to Recover Better
If so, you’re not the only one. Many people have no idea why these specific stretching guidelines are recommended.
Stretching before and after working out isn’t something that everyone knows about or practices. In fact, it’s something that many people, including fitness professionals and regular folks, overlook or forget about. But the benefits are so great that it’s worth the effort to remember how and when to stretch.
The Beauty of Stretching
When you first start stretching, you might be surprised at how much your body responds to the effort. Your muscles might feel sore, and even a little bit “stretched.” If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll also experience a feeling of increased mobility or flexibility, which is what you’re aiming for.
Everything your body is trying to do while you’re extending it in new ways, and while you’re holding it in new ways too. But what you might not expect is that your skin will feel smoother, or that you’ll smell or taste better. Or that you’ll have more energy. All of these things are from the “stress reduction” effect of stretching. And trust me, it’s a beautiful thing.
How to do a correct stretching routine
The right way to start stretching is by educating yourself. The more you know is, the easier it will be.
So, the first thing you need to know is the difference between stretching and warming up. Warming up is when you use light movements like walking, jogging, or cycling to get your blood flowing, your muscles moving, and joints moving.
Stretching, on the other hand, is when you use more intense movements like jumping, running, or lifting to get your blood pumping, your muscles working harder, and your joints moving faster too.
When it comes to stretching, here are some key points to keep in mind.
- Start with a pose that’s done for 30 seconds and hold for 30 seconds.
- Keep your hips and shoulders open, and your spine straight.
- Make sure to move and breathe naturally while in the pose.
- Don’t push too hard, or stress yourself.
After the pose, relax into the stretch for 30 seconds, and then release the stretch. That’s one round. Do that four times, or for four minutes, and you’ve just done a basic stretching routine.
Of course, there are other variations you can do, like holding one stretch for 60 seconds or repeating the sequence twice. You can also add some light intensity movements to the end of the stretches to really challenge your muscles.
The Reason Why Stretching is Important
Stretching is important for a few main reasons.
It helps prepare your muscles and joints for exercise by increasing their flexibility. Flexibility is key to injury-prevention and balanced movement.
It relieves muscle tension, reduces inflammation, and improves your ability to perform movements. Tensing muscles and staying in “fight or flight” mode triggers the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can lead to muscle tension, headache, and even fatigue. By stretching out your muscles and releasing excess tension, you reduce these harmful effects.
It improves your range of motion by increasing the range of motion in your joints. This means that you’ll be able to do more during each workout, and for longer periods of time.
The Best Types of Stretching to Do
When it comes to choosing the right type of stretching for you, there are a few things to keep in mind. Start with the basics like standing or seated shoulder openers, single joint or posture openers, and static stretching.
Here are some other stretching options you might like to try.
Pose – Hold Times (seconds) – Intensity
- Warrior 2: 30 – Medium
- Cobra 1: 30 – Medium-High
- Downward-Facing Dog 2 30-60 Low
- Overhead-Facing Dog 1 30-60 Low
- Thigh-Opening 1 15-30 Low
Whether you’re working on stretching out your neck, back, or feet, or releasing tension in your core (your belly, back, or chest), there are plenty of ways to go about it.
Here are a few poses you might try.
Pose – Hold Times (seconds) – Intensity
- Child’s Pose 1: 5-30 – Low-Medium
- Camel 1: 5-30 – Low-Medium
- Reclined Spinal Twist 1: 5-30 – Low-Medium
- Butterfly 1: 5-30 – Low-Medium
Hugging your way to Health
Hugging is a great way to relax and release tension in your body, while simultaneously stimulating your brain. Try it out on a daily or weekly basis to experience the positive benefits of regular hugging.
Stretching before and after working out isn’t something that everyone knows about, or practices. In fact, it’s something that many people, including fitness professionals and regular folks, overlook or forget about.
But the benefits are so great that it’s worth the effort to remember how and when to stretch.
Stretching before and after working out isn’t something that everyone knows about, or practices. In fact, it’s something that many people, including fitness professionals and regular folks, overlook or forget about. But the benefits are so great that it’s worth the effort to remember how and when to stretch.