Do you stretch before your workout?
Stretching before a workout is a common mistake I see all the time. Think of it this way: put a rubber band in the freezer for 30 minutes. Once you remove it from the freezer and try to stretch it, what do you think is going to happen? SNAP!
The same holds true for cold muscles. Okay, so maybe they won’t snap, but you will increase your risk of injury. The reason cold muscles are resistant to stretching is because of the lack of the oxygen in the muscle tissue. A resting heart rate doesn’t deliver enough blood to the muscles to warm them up to the point that makes stretching safe.
Which is why I recommend a ”dynamic” warm-up before doing any sort of stretching.
A dynamic warm up starts by getting all of the joints moving one at a time, then all together, taking the body through progressive bodyweight movements that turn up the heat.
There are a few basic goals of every warm-up:
1. Loosen Up: Your joints and muscles definitely need to get warmed up before the hard work begins. When I roll out of bed in the morning and head to the basement for my workout, I’m definitely not ready to jump straight into my intense workout. I can barely open my eyes let alone do a tuck jump. The first thing I do is a quick 5 minute dynamic warm-up.
2. Get the Heart Pumping: Increasing your heart rate gets the blood pumping to those cold muscles. A few ways to do this are a light jog, a few easy jumping jacks, or pretend to jump rope.
3. Stretch: What? You just told me not to stretch! Well, now you can because your muscles are warmed up. However, don’t be holding your stretches for more than a couple of quick seconds (always save your long stretches for AFTER your workout!) Do a couple of side lunges, shoulder stretches, and finish with a big deep breath.
4. Practice: If you are going to be doing a strength training workout, a good warm-up is to practice the moves you’ll be performing (squats, lunges, bicep curls, etc.) with a very light weight. If you are going for a long run, warm up with a slow jog, making sure your technique is perfect.
The next time you head out for an intense workout, be sure to remember the warm-up!