For this week’s Saturday Morning Drill we’re stressing the importance of stretching. While it’s important to warm up before a workout, many people don’t realize you should actually save the stretching for after the workout.
Stretching is not recommended before a workout because your muscles are prone to injury when they’re cold, which temporarily slows muscle activation. In order to warm up the muscles sufficiently perform at least three to five minutes of cardiovascular activity such as running in place or jumping jacks. Then, stretch after your workout is complete.
Even for those who take the time to stretch after a workout, it’s not uncommon to rush through the movements and thus forgo reaping the full benefits of the stretch. But proper stretching should be completed after a workout because muscles tighten and shorten during exercise. By stretching them afterwards you help the muscle both length and restore. Other stretching benefits include increased flexibility, improved circulation, improved balance and coordination, decreased lower back pain and increased energy levels.
A proper stretch should be completed one to three times, holding each stretch for 10-60 seconds. Remember, you should be in control of the stretch by focusing on performing it slowly. Listen to your body – each movement should be held at a mild tension but not to the point of pain.
To get your heart rate up, try our fall Pumpkin Workout. Start by warming up with some cardio, performing the strength training exercises, and end with these beneficial stretches.