You don’t have to be a yoga pretzel to take advantage of stretching! In fact, everyone needs to be stretching at least 10 minutes a day, whether you work out that day or not.
Why You Need to Stretch
There are so many benefits to stretching, including:
- Flexible muscles
- Better range of motion
- Improved circulation
- Increased energy levels
- Better posture
- Stress relief
- Increased mood
Just remember, you shouldn’t stretch with some injuries such as acute muscle strains, fractured bones, or joint sprains. (Consult your doctor if you have these injuries or any others to discuss what level of fitness you are cleared for as well as the best way to stretch.)
Also, start easy and increase over time with both your stretching and your exercise routine. If you feel any pain, release the stretch.
How to stretch before working out
Grab your CRUSH IT Tank, it’s time to move that gorgeous body!! Before you start your work out, take note of any areas of your body that are particularly sore that you should focus on. Stretching these areas will let you exercise more fully and prevent you from injuring yourself.
There are two types or categories of stretches that you need to know: Dynamic Stretches and Static Stretches. Before your workout, you will only want to do dynamic stretching. This is very important because if you do static stretching before a workout, it can actually cause injuries.
What you do want to do before working out is called Dynamic Stretching. These correct stretches will warm up your body by increasing blood flow to your muscles so that they are more flexible. Do each stretch/movement 10-12 times each for maximum results. Basically, you are “warming up” your muscles so that when you twist and bend during the exercise you aren’t shocking your system. If you live in a colder climate (or just love wearing cute clothes), wearing a light weight hoodie like our Can’t Stop Won’t Stop hoodie will actually speed up the warming up process so that you don’t pull something by working out with cold muscles.
Here are some awesome dynamic stretches to try:
- Arm Swings: Spread your arms out and then cross them over your body, and back out, repeat
- Walking Toe Taps: Take a step, then swing your other foot up as close to your hand as you can, then the other foot to the other hand and repeat
- Walking Lunges: Lunge forward with your right foot, and then bring your left foot forward to meet your right foot. Lunge forward with your right foot and repeat.
- Knee Hugs: From a standing position, bring one knee up to your chest and hug it with both hands. Release and do the same with the other leg
- Bended Twists: Spread your arms, then bend down and touch your right hand to your left knee or shoe, then right hand to left knee or shoe, and repeat
- Jumping jacks: Start with your legs together, arms at your sides. Jump while bringing your arms to the ceiling and your legs apart. Jump again and bring arms and legs back to starting point.
- Inch worm: From a push up position, walk your feet up to your toes, then back down to a push up position
How to stretch after your work out
So, to recap, dynamic stretches are important before the work out. After exercise, static stretches are your best friend.
Here are some of our favorite static stretches:
- Shoulder stretch: weave your fingers together and raise them to the ceiling. Keep your shoulders down and keep your back at a natural angle
- Butterfly stretch: Sit down on the floor with your feet together. Gently push down on your knees with your elbows
- Quads Stretch: From standing, lift one leg and grab onto the ankle. Hold onto a chair or the wall with your other hand for balance if needed. Gently bring your foot closer to your butt to increase the stretch.
- Runner’s Stretch: Sit down and put both feet together like in the butterfly stretch. Extend one leg and then reach one or both hands to the extended foot. Switch legs and repeat.
- Triceps Stretch: Raise your arms up, and then let your right hand drop behind your head. Take your left hand and hold onto your right elbow, creating the stretch.
Just like you cross train and use different exercises or machines to work all the muscle groups, you want to occasionally mix up the way you stretch. If you usually reach for your toes while sitting, try standing up and bending down towards the floor. Even though it is the same basic movement, you’ll work different muscles!
Remember to breathe normally during each stretch- you want to relax your system, not tighten it up. Also, don’t hold a difficult stretch for a long time. Static stretches are usually done for about 30-60 seconds each. But remember to be gentle with your body. If you have a particular muscle group that is hurting, stretch lightly from different angles and do several short “sets” of the stretch, maybe 10-15 seconds 3-4 times or whatever feels good.
After all that hard work running or lifting weights or however else you are moving, stretching feels amazing, and not just because we are happy to catch our breath! Exercising is breaking down muscle to build it back up stronger, but stretching is about making your body feel good now and preventing injuries. Stretching will keep you loose and lessen the next-day soreness, AKA “work out hangover.” So remember to stretch and you’ll be more “hurts so good” instead of “I can’t get up!” Grab your favorite protein drink in your FIP Blender Bottle and enjoy while you stretch it out! You’ll feel so good that you can’t wait to pack your gym bag with your Here’s to Strong Women Tank along with these other Gym Bag Essentials and exercise again tomorrow!
Anna and Elisha