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With tight schedules and busy lives, it’s hard to make time for a long workout. You opt for HIIT or cross-training since they are effective, yet quick enough to squeeze into anyone’s daily routine. You may work out at home, sprint or cycle outside, or work a sweat at the gym with heavy equipment and gears. Irrespective of your preference, you should always stretch before a workout. However, before you start stretching, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Types of Stretching
Stretching is a way to warm up your muscles and open up your body so that you can have access to a wide range of motions during your workout. It makes your body fluid by making it flexible and helps you to execute movements without breaking your form. It makes your muscles stretchy and also helps you to avoid injuries during complicated exercises. Moreover, without stretching you may end up with sore muscles after a heavy workout. Stretching falls into these main categories:
- Static - This type of stretching is done during and after your workout so that your body stays in the stretched position for a longer time.
- Dynamic - You do this type of stretching before and after your workout session. You do several stretches in a fluid motion repeatedly for the best effect.
- Active - You can do this sort of stretching before you start your workout, during the workout session, and post-workout. In this type of stretch, you need to contract your opposing muscles to the relaxing position.
- Passive - This sort of stretching is heavily dependent on your body weight or other forms of props or weights. You do this after workout sessions to relax your body by allowing gravity to do its thing.
- It’s important to not stretch or do any exercise with a cold start. You don’t need to bother about stretches that you do during and after your workout. However, for pre-workout stretches shake your body, sway your limbs and jump around a bit to warm your muscles.
- For static stretches, hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds and make your body used to the stretched length of your muscles and tissues
- Like exercises, don’t overdo stretches and stay within your limits. If a stretch induces pain and feels too hard, you’re harming your body instead of doing good. Back up to 80 percent or till you lose the pain.
Benefits of stretching before a workout
Here are some benefits of stretching your body before a workout:
- Enhanced oxygen flow - Your muscles, tissues, and other organs depend on oxygen for burning a high number of calories during your workout. If your oxygen flow gets hindered, you may suffer from reduced performance. That can lead to workout injuries. Before you begin your exercises, you need to get a fresh supply of oxygenated blood flowing around regions like the joints and ligaments. If the flow of oxygen is lacking, you will feel tension, pain, and aches in those areas. Stretching helps you improve the flow of oxygen in your bloodstream so that you can relieve pain, reduce the risk of injuries and increase performance.
- Reduce injuries - When you stretch before a workout, you elongate your muscles. When you workout elongated muscle fibers and tissues won’t rip apart due to tension from strength training. If you start lifting weights and do intense cardio with a cold body, your tensed muscles and joints may not be able to adjust to the rapid change and tear up leaving you seriously injured.
- More energy and motivation - When your muscles aren’t used or lengthened, blood can accumulate in them. To avoid that you need to stretch properly before a workout. That enhances blood circulation to your muscles and you feel a boost in energy. You also experience enhanced blood flow to your brain, especially during spine and back exercises, and that gives you more focus and concentration during your workout. You feel motivated to finish through the session and challenge yourself.
- You feel less fatigued - Even those who swear by cardio won’t be able to reach their full potential without stretching. Without stretching you will feel fatigue kick in more quickly and won’t be able to work out for longer even when you have some extra time. With stretching inactive parts of your body wake up so that you can execute your motions more efficiently. You also get an overall performance boost due to the combined effect of the above-mentioned benefits.