If you are like me, feeling that stretch in the hamstring is not the most comfortable thing in the world. Let’s be honest though, stretching is something that we all think we should be doing more of (including myself.) Although, what if I said that you don’t have to? Well, you should, but we need to use stretching at the right time and place.
Warming Up To Stretch:
Stretching has been known to be used as a warm-up before exercising. However, you shouldn’t stretch when your muscles are cold. It is best to hop on a bike or treadmill, perform some jumping jacks, or do whatever you like to do to get your heart rate up and your muscles warm. Getting the heart pumping and moving the blood throughout the body will help prevent you from getting injured.
When You Should Stretch:
Stretching has a time and place depending on the workout that you are going to perform. If you are going into an intense strength training session, it is best to stretch after your workout. If you perform static stretching before your strength training, this can fatigue the muscles before you even get started. It can also decrease your explosiveness and overall strength. However, this is where dynamic warm-ups come into play. These types of warm-ups help get blood flowing and stretch the muscles in a way that will prepare them for your workout.
Stretching To Improve Strength:
If you feel like you are tight in a certain area, it will be helpful to focus on stretching for a more sustained amount of time. Take a few moments and focus on improving your range of motion. This will take some repetition, but it will be worth it. Remember to breathe as you stretch those tight muscles! This increase in mobility can help lead to greater strength and improve recovery.
In the end, take some time to focus on stretching. You may have to take something out of your workout to fit it in, but you will not regret it. Happy Stretching Everyone!
Written by GUADS staff member Patrick with contributions from www.bodybuilding.com