This is going to be a new series where we delve deeper into the importance of stretching when it comes to any exercise routine. But first, why should we stretch? Time and time again I see people in the gym going pretty hard with weights, but not doing any sort of a warm up or stretching routine. When your muscles are cold and you go into a workout, you increase your risk of tearing muscles and tendons. The harder you exercise, the more your muscles shorten and tense up. If you don't stretch yourself out at all, you get tighter and tighter. Think of an old rubber band and how easy it is to see cracks in it and tear it. That's basically your tendons when you don't incorporate a stretching routine, and it can lead to pain and serious injuries. This gets worse with leading a sedentary lifestyle and aging, so as we get older it's even more important to incorporate stretches. So, without going too in depth, let's look at the different types of stretching routines you can incorporate, depending on your exercise routine.
Static stretching: These are what you typically think of when you think of stretches. Things like quad stretches where you hold your foot behind your butt. These stretches should be held for at least 10 seconds, but sometimes I prefer to hold it longer until I feel looser. This should be held at a point where you feel the stretch so it's not too easy, but also not painful. In between sets, especially with legs, I like to do a few stretches so that I decrease my risk of injury when I go heavy, but also so that you incorporate an active rest. When you work your muscles very hard, it's terrible to just rest and sit on your phone. Stretching keeps the blood moving and actually helps you recover in between sets faster.
Dynamic stretching: These stretches are what you may have seen football players or other athletes using before practice. Dynamic stretches incorporate a warm up with stretching at the same time. If you've ever heard of carioca or butt kicks, these are examples of dynamic stretching. While these are a little embarrassing to do in the gym, I find that these stretches are great for if you're going to be doing explosive activity like many cross fitters.
While I wouldn't really advocate for one type of stretch over the other, doing one type is better than doing none at all. I don't know about you, but I certainly don't want to deal with a muscle or tendon tear. I've seen videos of that on YouTube, not a fan.
In the next couple blogs I am going to be breaking down different static and dynamic stretches you can do for each area of the body which will help you stay Fuego during your workouts. Stay tuned!
Author: Sasha Oosting