One of the most common questions our members ask their trainers is, “When should I stretch?” Effective stretching can be done before and after exercise, but “when” to stretch really depends on what kind of stretching you’ll be doing and what goals you’ve set for yourself.
Let’s take a look at the different types of stretches and when to do them in this complete guide to effective stretching, then consider the benefits of stretching and how frequently the experts at EXOS recommend incorporating those regenerative movements.
Dynamic vs. Static Stretches
There are two main types of stretching movements. Dynamic stretches are fluid motions that mimic functional movements performed in a workout, but at a slower pace to warm up the muscles and ligaments. Static stretching motions are fixed positions that release tension and improve post-workout circulation, releasing tightness in already-warm muscles and connective tissue.
When should I stretch?
Because dynamic movements serve to warm up the body for work, it’s best to perform those movements either before a workout or independently, such as on a rest day. Some examples of dynamic movements include:
- Deep squat to hamstring stretch
- World’s Greatest Stretch (an EXOS favorite)
- Overhead reach to lateral extension
These stretches also provide a great mid-day break and help improve posture if your day involves a lot of sitting.
Static stretching helps the body recover from workouts, so these types of movements are most often reserved for post-workout regeneration. Examples of static stretches include:
- Lying hamstring stretch
- Seated hamstring stretch
- Standing quad stretch
- Overhead arm stretch
How often should I stretch?
The human performance experts at EXOS recommend that everyone stretch after a workout and 2-3 times per week for 10 minutes, at minimum. If your goal is increased flexibility, you may want to add more frequent or longer stretching sessions into your routine.
The benefits of stretching
Stretching movements – including foam rolling – increase circulation throughout the body systems and improve post-workout recovery. Because normal body processes and exercise produce waste products like lactic acid, it’s important to stretch and squeeze the muscles and organs to facilitate faster expulsion of those wastes. The benefits of stretching and squeezing the muscles are both physical and mental:
- Improves flexibility and posture
- Reduces soreness after a workout
- Prevents injury
- Calms the mind
- Increases energy
- Releases tension
Include stretching in your daily routine
Schedule 10 minutes for self-care every day and complete some dynamic stretching to help improve your posture, maintain or increase flexibility, and help keep your brain focused and performing at its best. As you stretch, incorporate breathing exercises to help oxygenate the body and brain and expel waste. Consider that 10 minutes daily an investment in your health. Your body and mind will benefit immediately and in the long-term more than you can imagine, so keep your daily appointment and you’ll be moving better and feeling better in no time. Oh, and remember to hydrate!
Read about stretches that are perfect for improving your golf game in this blog post.