The ultimate stretch

There has been a lot of debate around stretching and the actual benefits of it, as recent papers published by different research institutes suggest that stretching before exercise actually weakens your muscles and reduces their ability to release energy. However, dismissing stretching completely wouldn’t be correct either, so where is the truth

Stretching, if done regularly, should improve flexibility which means that your muscles and joints are able to function at a higher range of motion, and different sport and activities will require you to have the various range on motion. Therefore, dismissing stretching completely shouldn’t be the case. Stretching can also be done in the form of a yoga class (check out our piece on yoga here) and so if you don’t like to stretch before and/or after a workout, then a class of yoga once a week will do the trick for you. 

If you are a fan of stretching and like to include a pre-workout stretch to your routine you should warm up for 5-10 minutes first by walking swiftly or lightly jogging. Then follow up with a few dynamic exercises to activate and warm up your muscles in your existing range.

  • Lunges
  • High kicks
  • Hips stretch and twist
  • Leg swings
  • Frog walk-ins
  • Arm and shoulder circles

For your after workout stretching we recommend using static stretches. These are up to 30 seconds long, decrease stimulation, and increase relaxation. Unlike with the pre-workout stretching which is more likely to be specific to the kind of exercise you are about to do, the static stretching is non-specific and can be used after all exercises. You will be able to cool down after your workout, relax, and elongate your muscles and spine. These moves should include;

  • Shoulder stretch
  • Chest stretch
  • Biceps stretch
  • Upper body stretch
  • Lower back stretch
  • Hips and thigh stretch
  • Quadriceps stretch
  • Hamstrings stretch
  • Calf stretch
  • Iliotibial band stretch

If you don’t want to stretch before exercise, then you don’t have to, only make sure you warm up enough in order to activate your muscles and increase blood flow before the exercise. However, there is no harm in including the pre-workout stretch into your routine. It is also a good idea to stretch after your workout, as it helps your body to cool down and relax.

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