HOT TAKES: Stretching before a workout?
If you’ve ever wondered how you should properly warm up before a workout or have been unsure what the difference between static and dynamic stretching is, make sure to read all the way to the end to learn our top tips for a safe and effective warm-up routine!
Before we jump right into a workout, our muscles need to be ready for the impact, which is why warming up is so important. While all forms of stretching are beneficial for your body, the stretches you perform before and after a workout can vary significantly.
You’ve probably heard of static stretching or stretches where our muscles are extended and held for a period of time. These static stretches are great for post-workout recovery, which we’ll dive into in our next article. However, dynamic stretches involve moving your muscles through a full range of motion, using controlled movements to get your body ready for the specific activities you have planned. These stretches not only increase flexibility but also elevate your core body temperature, helping you transition smoothly from a sedentary day of work to a more physically demanding workout.
Whether your fitness routine involves going for a run, weight training, practicing yoga or Pilates, incorporating dynamic stretches into your warm-up is a game-changer. These stretches are your secret weapon for injury prevention and promoting flexibility.
So, let's explore some dynamic stretches that your body will thank you for:
Dynamic Stretches for your Workout:
- Jumping jacks- jump while simultaneously spreading your legs wide and raising your arms overhead
- High knees- While walking or jogging in place, lift your knees as high as possible with each step
- Plank walk out- bend at the hips to reach the floor, then walking your hands forward into a plank position, then walk hands back to feet before returning to a standing position
- TWY stretch - start standing with feet hip-width apart, and hinge at the hips to bring torso slightly forward, extend arms out to sides to form a T shape, then swing arms up so the upper arms align with the ears, forming a Y shape, bend elbows to waist and retract the shoulder blades to form a W shape.
- Thoracic rotation- sit with good posture, interlace your fingers, and gently rotate your upper body from side to side
- Spiderman stretch - Begin in a push-up position, step your right foot forward outside your right hand, then lower your hips and feel the stretch in your hip flexors, rotate your torso to the right, reach your right arm up, hold for a few seconds, then switch sides.
- Hanging Scapular retractions- hang on a pull up bar at full hang, retract your scapula down and squeeze the shoulder blades together as much as you can. Think about lifting your body up without bending your elbows or using your arms muscles.
Arms (Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps, Forearms)
- Arm circles- Extend your arms out to the sides and make small circles in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions.
- Shoulder shrugs- lift your shoulders straight up and hold them in an elevated position for a few seconds, then lower them to the beginning position. While doing this movement, keep the shoulders back and the elbows and spine straight.
- Overhead dynamic triceps stretch- while standing, reach your right arm to the ceiling then bend at the elbow to touch your upper back, with the other arm place your hand on your right elbow. Alternate sides
- Thread the needle stretch- start in a tabletop position, then reach one arm under the opposite arm, threading it through while keeping your hips in place and gently twisting your upper body for a shoulder stretch
- Walking lunges- take a step forward with one leg, lowering your body until both knees are at 90-degree angles, then push off the front foot to take a step with the other leg and repeat the motion on the other leg
- Squat jumps- begin with your feet shoulder-width apart, lower into a squat position, then explosively jump upward, extending your body, and land back in a squat position
- Squat to heel raise- start with a regular squat, then rise up onto your toes at the top of the movement to feel a stretch on your calve before returning to the starting position
- Kneeling hamstring to hip flexor stretch- Kneel on the floor and place one foot in a large stride in front of you, keeping your body tall, push your hips forwards evenly until you feel a stretch in the front of the thigh of your back leg. Hold this position for a few seconds. Next, transfer your weight backwards by taking your bottom towards your back foot as you straighten your front knee and lift your toes. You will feel a stretch in the back of the thigh of your front leg.
- Standing roll downs- stand with your feet about hip-width apart, letting your arms dangle, then slowly roll your head down your body until you reach your maximum distance without bending your knees. Slowly roll back up one vertebrate at a time
- Elephant walks- bend at your waist and walk on your hands while keeping your legs straight to stretch your hamstrings
- Hip circles- stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and rotate your hips in a circular motion
- Squat to toe touch- start with a squat, then straighten your legs and reach down to touch your toes, feeling a stretch in your hamstrings and lower back
- Cossack squat- stand with your legs wide apart, shift your weight to one side while keeping the other leg straight, and lower your body to that side while keeping the other leg extended, then switch to the opposite side
- ATG split squat- start in a lunge position with one foot in front of the other, then lower your back knee as close to the ground as possible while keeping your front knee bent at a 90-degree angle, and return to the starting position
- TWY stretch- start standing with feet hip-width apart, and hinge at the hips to bring torso slightly forward, extend arms out to sides to form a T shape, then swing arms up so the upper arms align with the ears, forming a Y shape, bend elbows to waist and retract the shoulder blades to form a W shape.
- Dynamic open arm chest stretch- stand up straight and raise your arms in front of you to shoulder height and place your palms together, then open your arms and move them apart horizontally to form a T with your body, push your chest out to feel the stretch before returning to the starting position.
Dynamic stretching can even be sprinkled into your daily routine if you’ve been hunched over the computer for a few hours and need to give yourself a break. This helps stimulate blood flow to your muscles, loosen them up and increase your joint health.
We hope you enjoyed learning about the benefits of dynamic stretching before your workout and remember to set yourself up for success with healthy habits. Stay tuned for our next article, where we'll explore the benefits of static stretching in your post-workout cool-down.
Here's to your journey to Live Well!
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Disclaimer: The information and other content provided in this blog, website or in any linked materials are not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Ever felt lost on what to do before a workout? Curious about the difference between static vs dynamic stretching or if it's even worth your time? Dive into the first part of our guide to uncover tips for a warm-up routine that is not only effective but will keep you healthy to conquer any workout!