Warming up before you stretch makes stretching more effective so that you don’t end up injuring yourself.
When you hear someone talk about stretching or warming up before their daily exercise or activity you may have heard them use those terms interchangeably. However, they are not necessarily the same thing.
Stretching simply does not count as warming up.
The difference between stretching and warming up lies in their purpose. Philip Gonçalves, head trainer at Força Fuel, explains, “The aim of a stretch, and the aim of a warmup are two different things. With a general warmup, the main objectives are to elevate core temperature and increase blood flow to working muscles…whereas the aim of stretching is to increase flexibility and joint range of motion.”
With that being said, many of you might already know that it is important for you to stretch before you go for a run. But did you know that you should warm up before you stretch out too?
That right, when it comes to stretching it is very important to know that you must warm up before you stretch. It is not a good idea to attempt to stretch before your muscles are warmed up for it may result in injury.
Research given to us by the American Council on Exercise offers us a list of the reasons why you should warm up before you stretch. They include lower risk of injury during your other workouts, better muscular function, decreased stress, better range of motion, less pain, improved circulation, less wear and tear on your joints, and overall better quality of life.
What type of stretching should I do?
There are two types of stretching you’ll encounter. One is static stretches – like reaching down to touch your toes, then holding that position and dynamic stretches, such as arm circles and leg swings.
According to the American Council on Exercise : you should use dynamic stretches as part of a warmup before workouts, and do static stretches after your workout — or at least after a warmup — to improve your overall flexibility and range of motion.
If you are going to focus on static stretches for flexibility, follow the guidelines issued by numerous expert organizations, including the American Heart Association and the Mayo Clinic: Stretch to the point of mild tension (not pain) in the affected muscles, and then hold that position for 10 to 30 seconds, breathing normally.
Don’t bounce, but do repeat the stretch three to five times in a given session. And if any of your stretches are unilateral (just one side at a time), make sure you take the time to stretch both sides.
Now if you are looking to reduced muscular tension and soreness as well as decreases the risk of injury to joints, muscles, and tendons here are a few ways in which you should warm up prior to stretching out your body.
Warming up exercises to do before stretching
The easiest way to warm up your body before stretching is to put your stretching at the end of your normal activity. That way, when it comes time to stretch out your muscles are already warmed and ready to go.
But if you prefer to do your stretching prior to your daily activities, you should find some time to warm up before you stretch.
The Mayo Clinic recommends filling your prestretch warmup with 5 to 10 minutes of easy activity. Whatever activity you choose to do should involve the body parts you’re going to want to use; so if you’re planning to go for an afternoon jog, your warmup could be as simple as taking a nice walk or pedaling a bike before hand.
Now if you are going to actively use your upper body you should choose something with an upper body component. Some examples include; pumping your arms as you walk, light shadowboxing, jumping jacks, or using the moving handlebars on an elliptical trainer.
You can also lift light weights, as long as you keep your body moving and use weight light enough that they’re not a challenge for your body to use.
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