By: Michelle & Olivia
Do you remember hating your coach for making you warm up and stretch before and after any kind of game or physical activity when you were younger? And, how pointless and boring you thought it was?
Well, as you could probably guess, your coach knew best.
Warm ups and stretching are integral for your body and we’re here to tell you why.
Since we’re getting older (unfortunately), our bodies need extra care. Things don’t just move the way they used to, or the way you want them to anymore. So, the more we take care of our body, the better off we will be long term.
Don’t go from walking into the gym, throwing your stuff in a locker, then to running at 8.5 on the treadmill right away. Chill out, girl. You need to warm the body up and get your heart pumping. Your muscles need to be warm and at a flexible state before you put them to use. It’s like pulling sugar. If you tug on cold sugar right away, it will snap. But, if you warm it up, and start stretching it, it begins to lengthen and move. Your muscles work the same way. If you’re stretching without being warm, you’re increasing your rate of injury. Your warm up will raise the body’s internal temperature, increase blood flow and oxygen around your muscles. Your body is then signalling them to prepare for action and increases their flexibility. You’ve only got one body, so make sure your setting aside a few minutes before each workout to properly prepare it.
We suggest doing any form of low-intensity aerobic activity. Walking, lightly jogging, or softly spinning will do the trick. Give it about 5-10 minutes, and you should be good to go.
Stretching is something most of us ignore or forget about and it’s probably the most important part of any workout. It helps reduce injury, increases flexibility, range of motion, and promotes coordination. These are benefits that carry out into your overall athletic capabilities and performance. If your muscles are too tight, you can’t expect to consistently improve. You won’t be able to reach the maximum range of motion in your exercises. So, don’t cut yourself short from all of the possible #gains that can be made.
Before a workout, do a dynamic stretch. These means that nothing is held. Sway from side-to-side in side lunges, or do standing alternating leg curls. Even something as simple as arm circles are incredibly effective. A 5-minute dynamic stretch pre-workout (post-warm up) will have you set up for success.
After a workout, do isolated stretching. This means you will focus on a single muscle or single muscle group and hold it for at least 30-seconds. Holding a stretch for less than 30-seconds won’t do much for your muscles. Push for 1-minute if you can. And, like your workouts, you can break this up. On leg day, stretch your lower body. On arm day, stretch your lower body. And, do total body at least once a week. Remember to not push yourself to ‘pain’ in a stretch, but to a gentle pull.