If you’re sitting on the ground reaching for your toes before exercise, you may not be getting the most from your workouts.
Static stretching probably won’t cause injuries because your body’s reflexes prevent you from stretching too far, but you may feel slower or weaker during exercise.
“Sitting and holding a stretch before your workout may decrease strength and power, especially if you’re weightlifting or running,” said Tom Schuerman, a Marshfield Clinic physical therapist.
Dynamic warm-ups are better for preparing your body to exercise because they activate specific muscles you’ll use in your workout, increase your body temperature and improve joint range of motion. Save static stretches for after your workout.
Try these dynamic warm-ups
Walking is a great way to prepare for any physical activity. Walk for a few minutes to loosen up. Then try these warm-ups to get your muscles and joints ready for exercise.
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“You can start with general warm-ups then move to more specific exercises that target the muscles you’ll be training,” Schuerman said.
Stretch after exercise
Static stretches, which are stretches that are held for at least 20 seconds, are most beneficial after a workout when your muscles are warm. These stretches are used when your goal is to increase flexibility. Gradually increase the time you hold these stretches up to 60 seconds.
Stretch your Achilles tendons, hamstrings, hips, lower back and shoulders after you workout. Focus on muscles that are especially tight from your workout or daily activities.