Stretch it Out

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By: Jill Tonne ACSM-CPT, ACE-CPT, ACE-CHC

Feeling tired, tight and sore? When was the last time you focused on warming up or recovering your muscles before and after your workout? For most, a warm up includes some sort of cardio movement and cool down involves walking on the treadmill for a few minutes before hitting the showers. However, a lack of a proper warm-up and cool down can lead to injuries and road blocks in your progress. Below are a few different ways you can help your muscles perform optimally and leave your workout feeling stronger than before.

Always Include a Dynamic Warm Up. What does that mean? A dynamic warm up is essentially a few controlled movements multiple times in a row. This will help to promote blood flow and engage the muscles you are planning on training during your workout. Completing a dynamic workout will help increase your range of motion and loosen up joint stiffness. A good way to figure out what your dynamic warm up should consist of is to think about the exercises you’ll be doing during your workout. Let’s say you are planning on working your legs using the barbell squat rack. A great dynamic warm up would be completing body weight squats or stationary lunges. Going for a run? Try doing some leg swings or high knee drives.

Always Include Static Stretching for your Cool Down. What does that mean? This type of stretching is probably what you think of when you hear stretching. This classic stretching technique consists of holding one position for an extended amount of time, multiple times. A good way to figure out what your static cool down should consist of is to think about what muscles you just worked during your workout. For instance, if you worked hard on your shoulder or triceps, it would be a great idea to do an overhead elbow hold (as seen in the photo) to stretch them out. Went for a long bike ride? Try a standing quadriceps or a standing hamstring stretch. Ideally you want to be holding each position for 20-30 seconds and repeating each stretch 2-3 times.

Incorporating a proper dynamic warm up and static cool down will not only improve your workout but also improve your recovery time. Leaving you rested and ready to hit it again tomorrow! Got questions about stretching? Feel free to ask any of our trainers to lead you through a quick stretching routine or join our group exercise yoga classes!