As our lives get busier and busier, it gets harder and harder to find time to fit in a workout, let alone a stretching session. After you've driven to the gym, changed into workout clothes, spent 45 minutes on the treadmill or weight training, the last thing you want to do is take even more time to stretch. Why bother? You've got places to be!
Sport-specific stretching is essential for walkers, runners, and athletes of all kinds not only for preventing injury, but also for improving circulation, range of motion, and flexibility. Fortunately, stretching is a quick and simple exercise that comes with significant benefits. We're sharing 6 simple stretching tips to add into your daily workout routine. Your body will thank you!
6 Simple Stretching Tips
- Never stretch a cold muscle. Walk or lightly jog for about 5 minutes and then stretch. Your muscles need adequate blood flow to relax and elongate (the goal of stretching).
- Stretch both sides of a muscle group to maintain muscle balance. For walking and running, stretch the following muscle groups in pairs: Quadriceps and Hamstrings (front and back of the upper leg), Glutes and Hip Flexors (front and back of hips), and Calves and Shins (lower part of the leg).
- Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds. Holding the stretch this long will give the muscle time to relax and elongate.
- Ease into the stretch. Stretch to the point you feel tension but not pain. If the stretch hurts, stop as you could potentially rip a muscle by stretching too fast or too far.
- Breathe as you stretch. This allows the muscle time to relax which improves flexibility and can help you increase the stretch. Flexible muscles are less likely to suffer from injury. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Stretch after every workout. The optimum time to stretch for flexibility improvement is AFTER the workout, not before. The muscles are warm and receptive to being stretched. Post-workout stretching increases blood flow to your fatigued muscles which helps in muscle recovery.