Tips on How to Warm Up and Stretch Properly
Stretching and warming up before your workout is essential in order to reduce the risk of injury. Stretching activates and loosens up your muscles in order to make them ready for the routine you are about to perform. Not only does it minimize risk of injury, but also feels good for your body! Whether it is a stretch that comes before or after your work out, your body will thank you for it. Another reason experts stress integrating stretching into your routine is flexibility. Flexibility is an important element of physical activity, therefore it is important to incorporate it into your work out.
A few things stretching helps you with:
- Decreases muscle stiffness and increases range of motion
- Helps relieve post-exercise aches and pains
- Promotes circulation
Not only does stretching physically aid your body when it comes to injury and muscle inflexibility, but it also gets your body both mentally and physically prepared for the stress it is about to endure. According to Sandra Hahamian, a certified personal trainer, stretching is also good for your glutes. She says that “when you’re sitting, the nerves that activate your glutes can shut down in a very short period of time.” So, if you’re sitting for long periods of time throughout the day, you glute muscles can begin to shut down. This in turn will cause other muscles to become strained and follow suit.
Remember: While it is important for your body to stretch, it needs to be stretched CORRECTLY.
The following list consists of a simple routine will allow your muscles, tendons, and ligaments to be more pliable (like a rubber band, not a brittle rope) when surging or putting out effort:
- LEG SWINGS (FRONT/BACK)
While standing tall on one leg, swing the opposite leg front to back while keeping it as straight as possible. Maintain a good posture while increasing range of motion of each swing. Use one arm extended to the side and hold on to a post or a tree for stability. (10 each)
- LEG SWINGS (SIDE)
Face the post or tree and hold on to it with both arms for stability. You will swing one leg high across your body and using the momentum on the way down allow it to swing up in the opposite direction. (10 each)
Walk forward with a brisk back-kick so that your heels come up to your glutes. Alternate the kick with each step. (20 total)
- WALKING LUNGES
Take a long stride forward keeping the front knee just behind your toes. Lower your body by dropping your back knee toward the ground, but just shy of touching it. Maintain an upright posture and keep your abdominal muscles tight with each step forward. (10 total)
- LATERAL LUNGES
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step to the right and shift your weight toward the right foot, bending your right knee and pushing your hips back. Your left leg should be as straight as possible. Reach for your right foot with your left hand. Push off with your right foot to return to starting position and repeat in opposite direction. (10 total)