It is one of the most underrated activities that literally everyone should be doing, however it is so important and in some cases can be the difference between your best performance and a mediocre one, not to mention your long term health.
Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong and healthy. It’s not enough to build up your fitness and your strength. Working on your flexibility is important too, especially when it comes to your mobility in later life. Without good flexibility, your muscles can become tight, short and weak. You may end up becoming more susceptible to injury and it puts you at more risk of joint pain, strain and muscle damage.
I would recommend that you do at least a little bit of stretching every day. If you are working out you should stretch before and after.
Before a workout
Before a workout I would recommend that you warm up, followed by a dynamic stretch of the areas and muscle groups that you will be working. For the warm up you can walk or jog, jump on a bike or even do a light row.
Following that I would do some dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching is when you go through dynamic movements where joints and muscles go through the full range of motion. You do this to warm up your muscles and your body prior to your workout. It also gets your body ready for that movement pattern. ie. a swimmer might do arm circles, a runner or someone about to do squats may do some leg swings against a wall or walking lunges.
Dynamic stretches get the body moving. The exercises are not held for any length of time
Post workout is where I would do static stretching and that is when you extend and hold the muscle for an extended period of time ie. you may hold a quad stretch for 20 seconds or a pigeon pose, a tricep stretch etc. I would be more inclined to use these stretches to warm down and recover post-workout.
Stretch routine before a workout
- Stretch arms out and then over head. Clasp your hands above your head and while sucking in your stomach lean from side to side. This will stretch out the entire sides of your body
- Trunk twists
- Arm Circles
- Down into a low lunge with your fingers touching the ground and pulse a few times
- Step back into a plank and swap your legs so your other leg is in front
- Low lunge on the other leg and pulses
- Back into a plank and do some mountain climbers ensuring you are engaging your core to warm it up
- Stand up and go into some slow lunges swapping legs each time
- Stand straight and stretch your arms overhead, now swan dive down into a forward fold
- Slowly roll back up. Roll your shoulders and move around as needed
- Hip opener stretch both legs. Hold for 20-30 seconds
- Then lean back so the front leg is straight and you are leaning back onto the bent back leg
- Stand up and go into a quad stretch on each side
- Trunk twists
- Tricep stretch
- Shoulder stretch by crossing your front arm across your body and pulling in the arm with the other hand
- Stretch arms overhead
- Bend neck side to side slowly. Be careful with your neck!