23 December 2016

Warming up and cooling down seem to be forgotten elements of training. And it’s pretty understandable because working on mobility is, let’s be honest, pretty boring. It’s common for gym-goers to jump into sets and hang the towel up right after a work-out, but as much as it is important for you to stay strong, being mobile is essential to staying pain and injury-free.

Here are the best types of stretching exercises for your warm-up and cool-down routines. 

Warm-Up: Dynamic Stretching

One of the worst mistakes you could make at the gym is skipping the warm-up. Although it may save you some time, dodging the warm-up could increase your chances of pulling a muscle or spraining a joint. Being injured can set you back weeks or months from reaching your target. It’s wise to take a few minutes to warm-up. 

Your aim is to increase your body’s temperature to prepare your muscles, ligaments, and joints for strenuous physical activity. According to a study published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” in 2008, dynamic stretching may increase muscular power when performed as part of your warm-up. 

Dynamic stretching involves movements that repeatedly put muscles through expected range of motion. It should also be sport-specific. So, if you’re playing soccer, air squats, leg kicks, and side lunges would be great to incorporate in your warm-up. 

Cool-Down: Static Stretching

After a workout is the best time to stretch. The muscles are pumped with blood and oxygen, giving them a better range of motion. 

Static stretching involves stretching a body part to its farthest position and then holding it for 30 seconds or more. It should not involve any bouncing or rapid movements. As you extend farther, feel the stretch through the entire length and center of the muscle and not in the joints. 

As you perform, your muscles are continuously contracted, leaving your muscles in a shortened state. Stretching helps reset your body to its natural position and posture. A cool-down routine (such as light walking and foam rolling) with static stretching will be extremely helpful to decrease post-workout muscle tightness and soreness. 

Some great post-workout stretches are the long-sitting reach, figure 4 squats, and triceps stretches.

If you want to maximize your performance and energy, don’t forget to warm-up and cool-down!