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Stretching to improve flexibility—and reduce injury

July 26th, 2013

eileen2Ask the Expert – Eileen Fitzgibbons, hive Personal Trainer

Q: Can you please explain the right way to stretch before vs. after a workout?

A: Great question!  We all know that stretching is good for you because it increases flexibility and can help increase your range of motion.  However, there is a difference between how you should “stretch” before vs. after a workout.

Warming up with Dynamic Stretching

Benefit: Maximize performance

Dynamic stretching means your body is continually moving even while stretching.  It also prepares the muscles in a sport specific way.  Dynamic stretching also helps to improve the range of motion in joints, allowing for better performance.

Warming up is essential to helping prevent injury.  Warming up increases blood flow which readies your muscles for the activity you are about to partake in.

For my clients, I recommend a thorough warm-up.  Ideas for warm ups are a light jog, jumping jacks, squats or a brisk walk.  (Big muscle movements.)

Cooling down with Static Stretching

Benefit: Cool down the muscles

I often see many people doing static stretches before a workout—this is not a good idea.  It’s better to do your static stretches post workout or activity, when your muscles are already warm.

The proper way to do static stretches, such as calf stretch, hamstring stretch, etc. is to slowly stretch and hold the elongated muscle at low force levels.  Apply nice smooth tension, don’t force it.  Perform 4-5 stretches, holding each for 20-30 seconds.

I hope this helps.  If you would like any more information about stretching or exercise in general, schedule some time with any of our amazing personal trainers at hive.

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About Eileen:
Eileen graduated from University at Buffalo with her bachelors in Exercise Science and is currently completing her masters work in Nutrition at Canisius College. Eileen is a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Strength & Conditioning Association and holds additional certifications as Gravity Personal Training Instructor and dotFit fit-pro.

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