You have to do warm-up stretches every day before starting your workouts, right? Whether that be strength training or cardio at the gym, stretching is important for effective exercising. It makes your muscles flexible saving them from pulls and strains.
But are you doing the right stretches? Think about it: you start your day by doing shoulder stretch, hamstrings stretch and what not. But instead of loosening and improving the muscles, these warm-ups are actually hampering them.
Do you ask why?
It is because all this while you were doing static stretches. Static stretches require you to:
• Move one of your muscles to its extreme ends of motion,
• Keep it that way for 20 – 30 seconds and,
• Repeat 2 – 3 times.
But how are static stretches counterproductive?
• Static stretches decrease muscle strength by 5.5 percent.
• The longer you hold the stretch, the more it affects your muscle strength.
• The optimum muscle performance required for heavy lifting and strength training decreases.
• Static stretches of the legs affect the central nervous system as well.
• Static stretches reduce the blood flow in your body.
The above points might scare you. But static stretches are not the only type of stretches you can do as warm up. You can perform dynamic stretches instead.
What are dynamic stretches?
Dynamic stretches are just the opposite of static stretches. In this pre-workout regime, you are constantly on the move. Instead of holding on to a stretch for some time, you make different movements to prepare yourself for the main exercise regime. It takes about 10 minutes to complete your dynamic warm-up stretches. And, it is far better than static stretches.
It is because dynamic stretches:
• Increase the blood flow in your body.
• Activate the central nervous system.
• Boost energy and motion.
• Extensively reduce the risk of muscle and/or nerve injuries.
Dynamic stretches never make you feel tired during your entire workout session. You love and embrace the sweat and vitality that come along with it.
Furthermore, static stretches can be a little boring. Whereas dynamic stretches provide you with variation and a lot of action.
Here are some simple varieties of dynamic stretches that anyone can perform:
• Keep your feet hip-width apart.
• Place your hands on your hips.
• Maintain a straight torso.
• Move your right foot forward and bend your knee.
• Your right thigh should be parallel to the ground.
• Your left knee at the back should be at 90 degrees and a few inches above the ground.
• Move to your initial position.
• Repeat the same with your left leg.
• Stand upright with hands on your sides.
• Relax your shoulders.
• Roll your shoulders to form a circle.
• First, do backward circles and then forward.
• Stand with your feet apart.
• Bend your knees a little bit.
• Keep your back straight.
• Stretch your arms to your sides and bend at the elbows.
• Bring your right foot forward and bend your torso to the left.
• Do the same with your left foot forward.
• Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
• Your arms should be by your sides with elbows at 90 degrees angles.
• Now, twist your torso from right to left and left to right.
• Go slow and do not stress too much on the twist.
Standing Hip Circle
• Standing up, raise your right knee to 90 degrees.
• Make sure your thigh is parallel to the ground.
• Now, make circles with your leg.
• Repeat the same with your left leg.
• If you are a beginner, hold on to a wall or pole.
• For pros, keep your hands on your sides or stretched out.
• Stand straight, raise your right leg to the side and swing it to the left.
• Continue for a few seconds.
• Switch to the left leg and repeat.
• You can even swing your legs forward and backward.
Whether you are a beginner or a pro, you can perform these dynamic stretches easily before you start the training.
Warm-ups are an important part of your workout. Skipping to the main exercise regime can cause painful injuries. Perform dynamic stretches to boost your energy in the beginning and static stretches after your workout.
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