Stretching before and after working out can maximize your results by increasing blood flow and reducing any tightness of your muscles.
Pre Workout stretches
Fitness and Nutrition Coach, Rob Arthur explains that pre workout stretches “get the blood flowing, increase body temperature, and activate the muscles that are going to be used during the workout.” The emphasis in the stretch must be on the muscle group that is about to be worked.
Half Kneeling Hip Flexor
This stretch is ideal if you have been sitting for most of the day at work. Certified Personal Trainer, Shane McLean explains, “As these muscles have been in a contracted position, this stretch will help release muscular tension and also activate your glute muscles.” This will help you warm up for a workout after a day at the office.
Fitness Trainer, Clint Fuqua, suggests to begin your routine with isometric exercises for whichever muscle groups you are going to focus on. After a few minutes of this, he recommends to “move into some dynamic movements that mimic your basic movement patterns of the workout. Then do a light rotation of exercises so your nerve, connective, and muscular tissues are all ready to take some abuse.”
Certified Trainer, Rui Li further explained that, “Static stretches can decrease your strength, so doing dynamic stretches before a workout is ideal. Stretches such as a rear lunge, a lateral lunge, or sitting in a deep squat with elbows pushing out the knees and then standing back up are great ways to improve hip mobility before you start moving. It’s like warming up your engine.”
Post Workout stretches
Muscles are easiest to stretch when they are warm, which is why after a workout is the most ideal time to stretch your muscles. McLean explains that “the post workout stretch will promote healing and improve flexibility.” According to Carol Michaels, Founder and Creator of Recovery Fitness, outlines some post workout stretch ideas that are to be done slowly and with concentration:
Backward Shoulder Roll
“Raise your shoulders up toward your ears, while inhaling slowly for 5 seconds. Slowly roll your shoulders backward and press them all the way back down, while exhaling slowly for 5 seconds. Increase the size of the circle with each roll. Variation: Reverse the direction to roll your shoulders forward.”
“Hold your arms at your sides, elbows bent to create a 90 degree angle. Firmly squeeze your shoulder blades together as you draw your shoulders and elbows back. Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together as if trying to hold a walnut between them while, then release to the starting position.”
“Stand with your back to the wall and your elbows bent to form a “W” with palms facing forward. While keeping your shoulders and arms flat against the wall, slowly slide your arms up the wall until they form a “V”. Inhale for 5 seconds as you slide your arms up the wall, and exhale for 5 seconds as you slide them back down to the “W” position.”
“Stand about a foot away from the wall. Press your palms against the wall and step backward with one leg, bending your front knee and keeping your back leg straight. Hold for a cycle of relaxation breathing then reverse.”
“Stand with your side to the wall, placing a hand on the wall for balance. Hold your outside foot with your outside hand and lift the foot up toward your rear end, keeping your thighs and knees together. Hold for a cycle of relaxation breathing then do the same for the other foot.”
Standing Figure 4 Hip Stretch
“Stand with your side to the wall, placing a hand on the wall for balance. With one leg slightly bent, rotate the opposite hip so that your other foot can rest on the weight-bearing knee. Gently lower your bottom as if starting to sit back in to a chair, maintaining your crossed leg position. Engage your abdominals for support. Hold for a cycle of relaxation breathing then do on the other side.”
“Lie flat on your back with your legs extended and arms open to the side. Slowly lift one leg toward the ceiling until it is perpendicular, then lower it across your body toward the floor. Hold the stretch through a cycle of relaxation breathing, then slowly raise the extended leg back toward the ceiling, lower it back to its starting position, and reverse. Try to keep your upper body still throughout the stretch and press your shoulder blades to the floor.”