Best Stretches Before and After a Workout from Best Stretches Before and After a Workout

Best Stretches Before and After a Workout

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Best Stretches Before and After a Workout

Stretching has become a controversial issue in the fitness world over the last couple of years. Some studies suggest it inhibits muscular performance and actually increases people’s chances of getting hurt. But experts are not ready to ban them from pre-training routines. Stretching your body is like stretching a cold rubber band—it won't stretch as far, and you could end up  doing damage to that muscle. The confusion comes from mistaking stretching for warmups.

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Before: Butt kicks

This is a dynamic stretch. Jog forward, kicking your heels back to your butt. Focus on achieving a fast tempo, kicking your feet back as quickly as possible and landing on the balls of your feet. Hold your arms at 90 degrees. Maintain a strong, tall posture. Butt kicks intensely work your hamstrings and, in the process, stretch your quads. The action mimics what the body does while running.

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After: Hip flexors stretch

It’s important to deal with tight hip flexors. These muscles allow the knee to pull up. Stretching flexor muscles leads to them lengthening more as you are working on them to improve strength needed to move in wider ranges of motion. Try the pigeon stretch. Bring the heel of your front leg to the pants pocket on your other leg. This will align your hips and allow you to drive them into the floor, accentuating the stretch.

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Before: High knees

You are basically jogging in one place. Perform for 30 seconds and rest for 10 seconds before continuing to the next exercise. This high-intensity, cardiovascular exercise gets your blood pumping while engaging your core at the same time. Many experts recommend it as a warm-up to a run or as part of a high intensity interval training program.

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After: Lower back

Regardless of whether you're an experienced athlete or new to exercising, any weight bearing workout, even running, can cause tension in your lower back. You have to include regular stretches to avoid excessive tightness which can lead to overuse injuries. Simply lie on your back, knees bent. Pull both knees towards your chest using your hands, until you feel a moderate stretch. Hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat several times.

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Before: Walking lunges

The walking lunge is a functional exercise that’s great for building strength in the glutes, hamstrings, and quads. However, two common mistakes people make are poor foot and knee placement. Don’t push on your toes because this will not give you the full benefit of the exercise. Your leading foot should be completely flat on the ground, pushing mainly on your heel, which you will feel in your quad. You then squat down with both legs, where your back leg should come close to, but not touch the floor. Your back should be straight and chest should be up.

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After: Calf stretch

This is not a stretch just for runners. Stretching your calf will help increase ankle mobility, giving you a better range of motion in lower body exercises and reducing your risk of injury. Rest your hands on a wall and stagger your stance by placing one foot forward. Lean forward, making sure to keep your heel on the ground. Hold for 20-30 seconds each side. Repeat at least 2-3 times.

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Before: Leg swings

This dynamic stretch will help to open up your hips and stretch your hamstrings. Stand next to your chair with your left hand holding the back for support. Lift your right leg up and extend it out in front of you, then, with control, lower it back down and kick it back behind you, keeping your leg straight. Repeat for 30 seconds before doing the same on the other side.

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After: The doorway chest stretch

Stretching your chest will help relieve upper back pain and improve your posture. This is especially important for anyone who is hunched over a computer all day long. Set up with one arm at 90 degrees against the edge of a doorframe. Turn your head in the opposite direction to intensify the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat 2-3 times.

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Before: Carioca

This is a quick step exercise that may have you sweating before you actually start working out. Stand sideways and prepare to move to your right. In one fluid movement, step your left leg in front of and across your body, and then bring your right foot in front of the left foot, followed by bringing your left leg back behind your body. Continue for about 100 feet and then travel back the other way facing the same direction.

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After: Standing wall stretch

Find a spacious area like a corridor or the living room with nothing and no one around. The stretch works your rhomboid and trapezius muscles (those around the base of your neck and between your shoulder blades). Stand at an arm’s length away from the wall and put your hands on the wall at shoulder height. Always keep you back straight and head up. Press your hands against the wall and lean your upper body forward.

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Before: Scorpions

This is an advanced form of planks, but it will stretch almost every muscle in your body. You will feel sore after just a few reps. Start in a standard plank position, on your elbows, as the body is parallel to the floor. Then raise one leg as you bend the knee. Lower your arms as you reach the same leg over your back, as you turn your hips. Touch the ground with your toes on the opposite side. Push back and repeat as many times as you can.

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After: Shoulder rolls

This is a very simple exercise that takes no effort, but is very important. The stretch will help increase your range of motion in the shoulders and upper back. This leads to better posture and it also helps release throat tension. Some therapists recommend the stretch as a stabilization and strengthening exercise. Breathe in as you raise your shoulders and shoulder blades to your ears. Breathe out as you pull them down. Repeat 10 times.

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Before: Twisters

Twisting exercises are tricky. If not done properly, you risk injuring yourself. But if you know the right technique, they can help muscle tone in the obliques and the QL muscle. To do the stretch right, bend your knees and place the left foot over the right? leg. Put your left hand on the floor for support and bend your right elbow to the left. Breathe in and keep your back straight. Exhale as you twist, pressing your arm towards your leg.

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After: Lat stretch

This is a very good exercise/stretch especially for people with back problems. Get on your hands and knees (“on your all-fours”) and alternatively arch your back, holding for a few seconds, then rock your pelvis forward. This gently moves the structures in the low back, engages back muscles, and stimulates some nerves that go to the cerebellum and help your body rediscover where its parts are and maintain control over them.

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Before: Yoga plex

You can never go wrong with yoga exercises. This is a particularly popular stretch. You can do it fast to make it part of you dynamic mobility warm-up routine. If you’re sitting in flexion all day, this is a very useful exercise as well because it will help you get into a little more extension. Always keep your back straight. Rotate your torso to one side as you reach your other arm up. Reverse and repeat at least 5-6 times.

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After: Quad stretch

Many people do quad stretches before they start the serious part of their training program. This is a bad move because quad stretches are just another form of static stretching. You are not sitting, but you’re not moving either. You are more than welcome to stretch the quads after. Tip: Squeeze the glute muscles to increase the intensity.

Best Stretches Before and After a Workout