Stretching- we’ve been told for years that flexibility training is an important part of a well rounded fitness program, yet it’s the thing most of us neglect when exercising. Some people cite a lack of time, but for many it is the fact that they are just simply not sure how best to stretch, or more importantly, when is best to stretch.
In recent years, research has shown that pre-exercise static stretching (holding a stretch in one position without movement- think elementary school PE class) may actually hinder physical performance. While static stretching does have its benefits, such as improved posture and flexibility, the best time to perform this type of stretching is at the conclusion of a workout during the cool-down phase, as it is best to stretch muscles when they are properly warmed, and therefore more pliable. Examples of static stretches include 90 lat stretch, childs pose, leg crossover stretch and overhead triceps stretch.
Research suggests that beginning your workout with a dynamic warm-up is a safer and more effective way to prepare the body for exercise. Dynamic stretching, which involves active range of motion movements that tend to resemble sport or movement-specific actions, lengthens the fascia (the connective tissue around the muscles), increases core body temperature and functionally prepares the body for the activity to come. Examples of exercises you can incorporate in a dynamic warm-up include bird-dog, bear crawl and dirty dog.