Is it possible that we’ve been stretching the wrong way this entire time?
Science is saying– yes!
It turns out that the most common pre-workout stretches (you know, the ones we all do where we touch our toes and hold that stretch for 30 seconds to one minute) actually end up making our muscles WEAKER.
That’s not exactly something you want when you’re about to workout. This standard practice of stretching is called static stretching. And, it’s something many people are finally opening their eyes to as being not only ineffective but detrimental to muscle health!
In fact, static stretching can weaken your muscles by up to 30%.
So, what’s the RIGHT way to stretch in order to actually strengthen your muscles, warm up, and get ready for a killer workout? The answer is…
A warm-up exercise
Seriously, the intention should be to physically warm up your body inside and out. This gets the blood flowing, pulling more oxygen from your bloodstream more efficiently. This kind of routine also loosens your tendons, leading to increased range of motion of your joints and muscles.
THAT is what we want before we work out.
The key to a solid warm up routine is to stretch your body while it’s in motion. This could look something like kicking up one leg at a time while reaching to touch that foot’s toes and then swinging to the other side
to do the same with the alternate limbs, that’s a good one.
But, ultimately you want to make sure that your warm-up is actually warming up the muscles, tendons, and joints you’ll be using during your workout. So, if you’re playing tennis, you’ll want to get a full body experience.
If you’re a pitcher or a golfer, you’ll want to make sure you warm up from the waist up so that you’re reaching every part of your body that you’ll be using most during your workout.
Something to keep in mind is that you’ll want to do your warm-up routine close to when you’re actually workout out. The goal isn’t to exert yourself because that will only lessen your energy for the actual workout routine rather than increasing it, but to get your blood pumping and your muscles ready to hop into action!
Sitting down for longer than 5 minutes after your warm-up routine actually causes it to lose its effect, which can lead to increased injury.
Interestingly enough, there
is still a lot of controversy out there about this new stretching technique (new to us, but not to the pros who have been doing it for years) and its ability to keep you from injuring yourself.
Some people say it’s a good idea to do a mixture of both static stretching and this new warm-up stretch where you start with aerobic exercises and keep your body moving the entire time. This is something that professional tennis players have adopted into their pre-game routine.
Some tennis players will actually do a mixture of both techniques in order to avoid injury while getting the most out of their bodies. Perhaps that’s the way to go for now until studies tell us more about the level of injury prevention you’ll see from one method alone.
But, this new warm-up routine is definitely something to implement into your workout regimen right away so that you can actually get the most out of what your body is capable of.
What does you warm-up routine consist of? Share with us in the comments section below!