Stretching - when, what, how & why

Most of us know that stretching is beneficial for flexibility right? Did you know it also helps to improve blood flow and prevent injuries. So when is the best time to stretch, and what type of stretching should we do when?

Before a work out: Dynamic stretching.

These types of stretches mimic the movements you will do in your workout but at a lower intensity. Dynamic stretching moves a muscle group fluidly through its an entire range of motion. For example, walking lunges, butt kicks or arm circles. This type of stretching prepares your muscles for the stress they are about to be placed under by increasing the blood flow to the mscules. It can even lead to improved performance so add some of these into your workout routine today.

After a work out: Static stretching.

Each stretch should be held for a minimum of 20 – 30 seconds and held to the point of mild discomfort but not causing pain. A post work out stretching routine will also slow down your breathing and heart rate, bringing the mind and body back to its resting state. For example, bending forward to touch your toes or grabbing your foot behind your back to stretch your quads. Static stretching is also great for people who spend lots of time in a stationery job to loosen up stiff joints and tight muscles. Remember not to hold your breath when holding a stretch. Instead, relax by inhaling, holding for 2 seconds and then exhaling for longer than the inhale.

When NOT to stretch:

It is important that you don’t do static holding stretches when your body is cold as it is when you first wake up. Your risk of injury increases if stretching under these conditions so make sure you wait at least one hour after awakening or even better, stretch after a hot shower.

It is ideal to stretch all muscle groups every day, however being realistic, stretching 3-4 times a week will still provide you with mutiple benfits. It is best to concentrate on stretching the muscle groups mostly used in your workout on that given day to prevent delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) for the following few days.

For more information or help designing the ideal pre and post-workout stretching routine for your sport or injury call 4655 5588 and let Laura our exercise physiologist asisit you get the most out of your workouts today.