The Best Way to Stretch Before and After a Workout
It’s not the same for both!
Not all stretching is created equal, according to my personal trainer, Stephanie Pipia. Here are some of her tips on how to stretch pre- and post-workout.
Pre-Workout Stretching:For a pre-workout warm-up, Stephanie recommends dynamic exercises for flexibility that are performed through a full range of motion. These types of exercises prepare the body for the work it is about to do. The stretches are typically held for just three to 10 seconds. The purpose of dynamic exercise is to increase movement of the joints through a specific range of motion. This helps to increase core temperature and blood flow, and wake up the central nervous system.
Research has shown that dynamic stretches improve force production and explosive power. They can also help to increase body awareness, and help with stability and balance-all in the warm-up, getting your body ready to work!
Examples include walking lunges with and without a rotation, lunging and reaching, glute bridges, stepping to balance, power skipping, butt kicks, etc.
For post-workout cool-downs, Stephanie recommends static stretching. Like dynamic stretching, it improves flexibility by moving joints through a specific range of motion. However, unlike dynamic stretching, it does not increase your core temperature. Static stretching suppresses the central nervous system, relaxing the muscle spindles by lengthening them, and has been shown to actually reduce power and force production in several studies.
Static stretching is great to relax your muscles after a workout. These types of stretches are usually passive, meaning someone else is stretching you as you relax your body. Each position is held for 10 to 30 seconds, and repeated four to six times. Individual muscles like hamstrings, quads, and hip flexors, are stretched versus dynamic moves, which usually involve your full body.
Both types of stretching are very beneficial when done at the appropriate time, intensity and specificity!