There are many benefits to stretching before and after a workout. Stretching before the workout prepares your body for the session and increases joint flexibility, while stretching after decreases the risk of muscle fatigue and soreness, as well as increases blood flow and helps the cooling down process. So what kind of stretches should you do? Here are six of our favourites to get you started:
Stretches to do Before Every Workout
1. Standing Bow Stretch
This exercise stretches the chest, abdominals, hips, groin, groin, and ankles, loosening any muscle tension in those areas and improving flexibility for just about any type of workout. Once you achieve the pose, hold it for about 5–15 full breaths, then gently lower yourself back to the start and repeat on the opposite side.
2. Assisted Single-leg Hamstring Stretch
Your hamstring is a muscle group located in the back of your thigh and is responsible for flexing or bending your knee. By stretching it before your workout, you can help improve your walking/running strides and alleviate lower back pain. It also stretches your glutes and relieves tension in your ankles, calves, and feet in a way that will not put added stress.
3. Low Lunge Stretch
This routine stretches your lower back, hips, inner thighs, and quads, releasing tension in those areas and strengthening your knees. It is quite easy to get into and there are a plethora of benefits to this posture. Low lunge is also a great pose for athletes since it helps them deal with the typical sources of lower-body soreness and build mental focus.
Stretches to do After Every Workout
1. One-legged Pigeon Pose
This powerful hip-opener can help increase flexibility and the range of motion in your hip joints, especially after intense activities that have made the outer hips tight stiffened the front hip flexors. It stretches your thighs, groins, and abdomen, while also relieving tension in the chest and shoulders. It also stimulates the abdominal organs, which in turn helps regulate digestion and alleviate stress and fatigue afte your workout.
2. Overhead Triceps Stretch
You can do this routine while standing or sitting. The overhead triceps stretch helps relieve muscle tension after a workout and aids in injury recovery. It can also be used to improve flexibility, loosen connective tissue, boost circulation, and increase the range of motion all while using no equipment. It is ideal for workouts that involve pushing and throwing movements and athletic activities.
3. Cobra Stretch
This exercise stretches the muscles in your shoulders, chest, abdominals and the lower back. Among its plethora of benefits, it gets the buttocks toned, decreases stiffness of the lower back, strengthens the arms, shoulders, and abdomen, and increases flexibility. Seasoned practitioners have also reported benefits of stress alleviation, improved circulation and mood elevation.
Like most routines, it might be difficult to achieve at first, but with practice and perseverance, you’ll be doing these stretches in no time. But remember to start slow, breathe through your stretches, and never stretch to the point of pain.