By: The YMCA of the Fox Cities
We know life can be very busy, and sometimes getting your workout in is difficult, so you may be tempted to skip the warmup and post-run stretching to save time. However, this can have a negative effect and even prolong your workout recovery.
What’s the best way to warm up before you exercise?
Recommendations for warming up have been changed. The standard static stretch has been replaced by active stretching.
Active stretching refers to movements that contract muscles and move joints through a full range of motion. These functional movements are performed on cold muscles (think putting a raw noodle into warm water).
Active stretching is more beneficial for pre-workout warm-up because it warms the muscle and decreases stiffness. The best active stretching movements are sports-specific and performed in a controlled steady tempo. An example of a sports-specific active stretch is doing 20 high knees before running.
Other common active stretches include:
• Leg swings – front/back and side to side
• Walking lunges
• Hamstring curls
• Side bend/twist
What’s the best way to cool down after you exercise?
Static stretching is beneficial for post-workout exercises. This type of stretching refers to single movements that are held for a period of time, generally 30-45 seconds.
Static stretches are done when the body is warm. They help prevent post-workout stiffness and can help put muscles back at their pre-exercise length (think straightening out a cooked noodle).
The focus is on alignment and slow, controlled intentional movements held for 20-30 seconds without bouncing or straining while paying attention to areas of your body that are feeling tight.
Examples of static stretching include:
• Seated hamstring stretch
• Seated butterfly
• Chest opener
• Overhead triceps stretch
Static and Active stretching are both important to a successful exercise program. So, don’t try and skip the stretch! Investing in 5-10 minutes of pre and post-workout stretching is worth the time and will help improve performance, prevent injury and increase flexibility.
About YMCA of the Fox Cities
For 135 years, the YMCA of the Fox Cities has been a unifying force in the Fox Valley. The YMCA links individuals from diverse social and economic backgrounds with an inclusive, collaborative spirit, guided by Christian principles. The YMCA positively impacts the quality of life for more than 60,000 people each year, giving children skills and values which protect the integrity of family life and neighborhoods. For more information, visit ymcafoxcities.org.