Over the years, I’ve met plenty of people that don’t stretch before or after a workout. When I ask why, the most common reason people tell me is “I’m going to warm up when I start exercising”. Even when you’re short on time, trust me when I say that stretching is an important part of training. Preparing your body for a workout and cooling down at the end can help reduce the risk of injury and muscle soreness.
Stretching is hugely beneficial for balancing the mechanics of your body as well. But which form of stretching is more important? Pre-workout or post-workout stretching? Today I’m going to explain the difference between the two methods and why you should be including them as part of your workout sessions.
Stretching before your workouts helps your muscles, connective tissue and joints to warm up, giving you a greater range of motion. Pre-workout stretching helps increase your core temperature, which can make it easier for your muscles to perform. Before a workout, I recommend using dynamic stretching methods, such as arm and leg swings. This is because they keep your body moving continuously and prepare your body for the movements you’re about to do.
Pre-workout stretching also tells your nervous system that it’s time to get moving. As a result, your coordination skills and heart rate can increase and your core muscle groups (such as the glutes, back muscles and abs) will start working for you.
When done correctly, regular dynamic stretching pre-workout can also help improve your performance, as your joints can become more flexible over time.
Once you’ve done the hard work and finished your session, stretching can help you to relax and cool down. Post-workout stretching is different to pre-workout stretching as it focuses on lengthening your muscles. Following your workout, it’s a good idea to perform static stretches rather than dynamic ones.
Static stretches are ones where you hold a position for 10 seconds or more, which can help to loosen up your muscles. For some simple stretches you can do after working out, check out my recommendations for the best post-workout stretches.
Static stretching allows you to focus on particular muscle groups, such as hip flexors and hamstrings, or other areas that may feel tight after working out. It’s also a good idea to go for a short walk as part of your cool down, as this can help slow your heart rate. Try to stretch for at least 5-10 minutes and be sure to stretch both sides of your body for an equal amount of time.
I know it’s hard to make time for stretching AND exercise, but it really does help keep your fitness on track. Neglecting to stretch can put you at higher risk of injury, while following a regular pre- and post-workout routine can actually help your performance and recovery. It’s also important to know what style of stretching you should be doing before and after a workout.
Throughout the BBG and SWK, you’ll notice upper and lower body stretching sessions have been included with each workout. I’m a firm believer that stretching has a huge impact on your training, and can help develop better muscle condition. Hopefully now you girls have an understanding of how to use both pre and post-workout stretching.
Love, Kayla xx