You’re stretching, which is so important for us at any age, but are you doing it correctly?
Assuming you’re not dealing with an injury, here are 4 ways you might be stretching wrong.
You might be only stretching after your workout.
Many people stretch at the end of their workout but forget to do it at the beginning.
You shouldn’t only limit stretching exercises to after weights or a run. Do it beforehand to loosen your muscles and increase your range of motion.
You don't do a general warm up activity first.
Jumping right into the pre-workout stretches without a proper warm-up can set you up for problems later.
Before you get into your pre-workout stretch set, do a short warm up activity.
Walking for a few minutes to get the blood flowing is a popular choice. Doing a light intensity row on a rowing machine for 3-5 minutes is a great choice, too, because it gets the whole body moving.
Related: How to Warmup to Lift the Right Way
You're doing the wrong type of stretch at the wrong time.
Doing the wrong stretch at the wrong time can result in injury during either your stretch or workout.
Before your workout, do dynamic stretching.
“Dynamic” implies movement, so you want to pick a stretch that uses a good range of motion, gets blood pumped into the muscles, and get the joints warmed up, too. Leg swings or arm circles are examples.
After your workout, that’s a good time for static stretching, which is the typical stretches we are used to doing.
If you want to use a foam roller, that can be done before, after, or both. I have scar tissue in my quads from old pulls, so I like to foam roll before my leg workout to increase the blood flow to those areas.
You hold your stretches too long (or not long enough).
Not holding a stretch long enough can render it ineffective, but too long can actually make you stiffer, putting you at risk of injury.
The safest bet is 30 seconds per stretch, which will work to lengthen your tissue and muscle fibers.
Warm-up and do dynamic stretching before your workout to prepare your mind and body for the exercise ahead.
After you’ve finished and cooled down, implement some static stretching or foam rolling to jump-start muscle recovery.
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