- Business Advocacy
The simple act of stretching into and out of a workout will help exercisers stay flexible and injury-free.
Make warm-up stretches before a workout and cool-down stretches afterward a part of the workout routine. Here are some ideas on how to proceed.
Start with some slow and gentle activity to warm up your muscles. Avoid static stretching, which is when you hold one stretch position for up to 30 seconds. This can negatively affect your workout. Instead, do stretches that involve movement, called “dynamic stretches,” which will gradually warm up your muscles while increasing flexibility and mobility of your joints. This will better prepare you for the workout ahead.
Pre-workout dynamic stretches
Here are some examples of recommended pre-workout stretches.
Ankle circles: Stand facing a wall with your feet apart while placing your palms against the wall. Raise one foot at a time and gently draw a circle in the air with your big toe. Return to the starting position and make a circle in the opposite direction. Repeat a few times, then stretch the other leg.
Leg swings: Stand sideways to a wall and brace yourself for support. Hold your non-supporting arm out in front of you and swing the same-side leg up toward your hand. Don't worry about reaching your hand; the idea is to stretch the hip muscles and loosen up the hip joint. Swing the leg backward and forward, gradually increasing your range of motion. Repeat this for 5-10 swings in each direction, then switch to the other leg.
Shoulder rolls and arm circles: While standing, roll your shoulders forward 5-10 times, then backward 5-10 times. Then do large arm circles forward 5-10 times and backward 5-10 times. Keep your stomach muscles tight to avoid moving your torso during these stretches.
Neck turns: Turn your head to look up toward the ceiling then down to the floor. Repeat 5-10 times. Then move your head to look over to the left and to the right. Repeat 5-10 times. Finally, tilt your head sideways, bringing your left ear toward your left shoulder, then the right ear to the right shoulder. Repeat this 5-10 times. Now you are ready to sweat!
Your post-exercise cool-down stretching should involve movements, such as walking, that gradually reduce your heart rate and help the blood circulate away from the working muscles. Now is the time for static stretches that allow your muscles to recover.
As always, stay hydrated, and please consult a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. ###