Why you should make stretching exercises a habit

There seems to be much of confusion when it comes to stretching exercises, regardless of it being before or after your workout routine, is a controversial one. At Success Fitness, we hear our clients ask:  

    • Should I stretch?
    • How much do I stretch?
    • Do I stretch before my workout or after?
    • What kind of stretches?
    • How long do I hold each stretch?
    • Will I get hurt if I don’t stretch?

These are all great questions and there are many different answers. In short, the answer is, it depends. The long answer lies on in your goals, your physical health, and the different muscle groups. Before we go into our stretching exercises for beginners, let’s talk a little bit about different stretch types, what and why we stretch.

Chest and Anterior Deltoid Stretch

Type of stretches: Static and dynamic

Stretching a muscle to the full extent of your ability and holding it for 15 to 30 seconds is what’s called a static stretch, and there’s no harm in stretching that way as long you don’t stretch until it hurts.

Stretching a muscle to the full extent of your ability and holding it for 15 to 30 seconds is what’s called a static stretch, and there’s no harm in stretching that way as long you don’t stretch until it hurts.

But studies suggest a dynamic stretch is just as effective, and sometimes better, especially before your workout.

What is the difference?

A dynamic stretch is a moving stretch, like the Standing Cat-Camel, moves a muscle group fluidly through an entire range of motion.

Quad Stretch

Stretching exercises before your workout

It’s not proven that stretching before exercising could help prevent injury, curb muscle soreness after exercise, or improve your performance. Studies have also shown that static stretching before exercise can actually weaken performances, such as sprint speed. The most likely reason for that is that holding the stretch tires out your muscles.

But you should warm up by doing dynamic stretches, which are like your workout but at a lower intensity. A good warm-up before a run could be a brisk walk, walking lunges, leg swings, high steps, or “butt kicks”. Start slowly, and gradually ramp up the intensity.

Hip Flexor Stretch

Stretching exercises after your workout

In a perfect world, you’ll stretch a few minutes into and after your workout.

Everyone is more flexible after exercise, because you’ve increased the circulation to those muscles and joints, and you’ve been moving them.

You’ll get the most benefits out of your static stretches now.

Hamstring Stretch

Try this

After you go for a run or strength training workout, walk around a little to cool down. Then go into your stretching exercises. It is not only a good way to increase flexibility, it also signals the end of the workout for your body and gives it time to regulate. 

Stretching exercises for beginners

What stretches you choose to do will depend on several factors.

    • Where are you tight?
    • What muscles or muscle groups did you just exercise?
    • Do you have imbalances that need to be corrected by lengthening certain muscles on a frequent bases to help correct the situation?
    • If your posture or activities are a problem, make it a habit to stretch those muscles regularly.
    • If you have back pain from sitting at a desk all day, stretches that reverse that posture could help.

Move into a stretch and stop when you feel tension. Breathe deeply while you hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Then relax, and repeat the stretch, trying to move a little bit further into the elongation during the second stretch. Hold, breathe, relax, repeat.

Core Stretch

Benefits of stretching exercises

We believe that making stretching a habit is a great idea. Regular stretching can help keep your hips, hamstrings, and major muscle groups to stay more flexible as you age, and it also can help you move better and with more ease. Stretching or flexibility exercises should be a part of a regular program!

A muscle that is strong will be tight. Think about that sentence and read it again :) It is a vicious circle – you work out, you get stronger, you get tighter. So yes, stretching is vital to a healthy body.

Hip, Low Back and Lat Stretch

Go ahead and stretch away. Mindfully though.

If you need help setting up a regular exercise and stretching routine, we’d be happy to help you to find a program that fits your body and your needs. See you on the next one?

Your team at Success Fitness | Eat clean, Train Dirty

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