Home > Blog > Stretch to Success in 2022: The Best Pre-and Post-Workout Stretches to Add to Your Routine
Only making resolutions for the New Year will not get you anywhere. You also need to make sure that you understand what needs to be done and if you are doing it right to achieve your fitness goals. Pre and post-workout stretches offer several benefits that include improved posture and flexibility, increased energy, and release of tension that help you focus better on the workout. You can protect your mobility and independence by adding the best stretches to your routine. Learn more about the benefits of stretching and how they can be incorporated into your workout with licensed physical therapists and physicians at the Physical Therapists NYC. The top-rated therapists guide you about the best pre and post-workout stretches that help you achieve your new year’s fitness resolutions.
Get yourself screened by the top therapists and experts at the Physical Therapists NYC to know why pre and post-workout stretches are so crucial for your workout routine and how they can take you on the road to fitness.
Why Do I Need to Stretch When I Am Exercising?
Stretching may seem like an inconvenience or a waste of time, especially when you are already exercising or working out regularly. You may not understand this but warming up and cooling down your muscles is essential for preventing injury, pain, and strains. Usually, the muscles are tight after working hard throughout the day and not prepared for exercises, and any sudden activity or movement can lead to damage or injury. Stretching before exercise can reduce the risk of injury. It allows the muscles to loosen up and increases your range of motion.
Stretching after a workout is equally necessary. Post-workout stretches, also known as maintenance stretches, help move lactic acid out of the muscles and decrease soreness. These types of stretches enable the blood to flow freely and return to a regulated place. Muscles regain their shape, and you can look forward to better performance the next time you exercise.
Even if you are short of time before or after a workout session, try and make efforts to incorporate at least a few stretches to get your muscles warmed up or cooled down. These few extra minutes you spend on stretching before and after a workout are worth the effort and play a significant role in preventing injuries.
When Should I Stretch – Before or After a Workout?
Stretching is crucial, both before the workout and afterward. The two stretching sessions serve specific purposes and consist of very different exercises that benefit the body in their own ways. Healthcare experts recommend dynamic stretches before a workout and static stretches once you are done with the routine.
Pre-Workout Stretches – Dynamic Stretches
Also known as warm-up stretches, dynamic stretches consist of active movements that send muscles and joints through their full range of motion. The goal of these pre-workout stretches is to increase the muscle temperature and reduce stiffness, which in turn improves performance and prevents injuries during the workout session.
When performed correctly, dynamic stretches improve speed, agility, and acceleration during a workout. They prove to be very beneficial when aiming to achieve particular fitness resolutions.
The following movements are expert-recommended dynamic stretches that should be completed before your workout. Completing two or three rounds of 10 repetitions of each movement can warm you up really well for the preceding workout.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. With your toes pointed slightly out, engage your core, bend your knees and push the hips back as you squat down until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Remember to keep your chest up. Hold your hands straight in front or clasp your hands in front as you feel comfortable.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Maintaining a straight posture, lift one knee to your chest, rapidly switching to the other leg. If it helps, begin by jogging in place first. Keep your core engaged as you switch from leg to leg at jogging or sprinting pace.
Standing straight and keeping your hips aligned, swing one leg forward and backward in a single smooth movement. Switch sides and repeat to complete the set, at least 10 swings per leg. Use a wall, fence, or pole to maintain your balance throughout the dynamic exercise.
It is also helpful to start with light leg swings first and gradually extend your range of motion throughout the stretch.
Stand straight up. Engage your core and take a big step forward with your right leg, shifting your weight so your heel lands first. Then lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to the floor and your right shin is vertical. Press into your right heel to drive yourself back to the starting position. Repeat the same method for the left leg.
Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Bend from your hips, reach down, and place your hands flat on the floor in front of your feet. Next, shift your weight onto your hands and begin walking yourself forward until you form a straight line from your head to your heels. Engage your core and keep your hands directly under your shoulders. Hold for your desired rep length before walking backward and returning to starting position.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms out to the side, parallel with the floor. Circle your arms forward using small, controlled movements. Increase the size of the circles gradually till you begin to feel a stretch in your triceps. Reverse the direction of your circles.
Standing Toe Taps
Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Reach forward with the right arm. Keeping your legs straight, raise the right leg towards your right hand, tap your right toe with your hand. Lower your leg and repeat the same activity on the left side.
Start by standing straight with your legs together and arms flat at your sides. Bend your knees slightly and jump into the air, spreading your legs shoulder-width apart and stretching your arms out and over your head. Jump to return to starting position and repeat the movements.
Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your side. Bring the heel of one foot off the floor towards your glutes and raise the opposite hand towards your shoulder as if you were running. Then, rapidly switch to the other side. Keep your shoulders, back and core active throughout this dynamic stretch for best results.
Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Keeping your hands together in front of your stomach, pull your knee until it is parallel with the floor. Then pull the knee back, opening up your hip. Go back to starting position and repeat for the other side of your body.
Post-Workout Stretches or Cool Down Stretches
Also known as static stretches, post-workout stretches involve an activity that is held for some time, usually between 10 to 60 seconds, depending on how you can do it. These stretches are still and do not involve any movement, hence the name static stretches.
When performed after a workout, these static stretches help to slow down the body gradually. They also assist the tired and constricted muscles to get back to a more relaxed state. This increases body flexibility and reduces the risk of injury after a rigorous workout. There is no need to stretch every muscle, but stretching the muscles, which are tight from the routine workout can benefit from this activity.
You should feel a slight pull with a little discomfort but not pain when doing static stretches. Holding each stretch for about 30 to 60 seconds delivers the best results. Healthcare experts recommend using some of the following stretches after the workout for maximum results.
Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bring your right arm across the front of your body at chest height. Using the crease of your left arm or hand, support your right arm. Stretch your shoulder and continue facing forward. Hold this movement and then repeat with the other side.
Stand straight with your feet slightly apart and toes pointing forward. Keep your legs straight, bend from the hips, and reach down towards your toes. Engage your core throughout this exercise and repeat.
Stand straight and keeping your chest forward and core engaged, step forward with your right foot into a lunge position. Lower your left knee to the ground and extend the right knee forward. Then, clasp your hands together and push out, lifting your arms over your head. Retain and then switch sides. It is necessary to keep your chest facing forward throughout this activity.
Sit down on the floor keeping your back straight and knees bent. Drop your legs to your sides and bring the soles of your feet together. Grasping at either your feet or ankles, slowly lean forward, keeping your back straight. Place your elbows on your thighs and press down gently for the stretch.
For this exercise, stand straight with your legs together, knees touching. While standing on one leg, raise your opposite foot using your hand towards your glutes. Hold then repeat, switching legs. You can also use a chair or wall to hold yourself steady.
Start by lying flat with your abdomen on the ground, and your feet stretched behind you. Bring your hands next to your chest and engage the glute and back muscles to curl the chest up from the floor.
Knee to Chest
Stand tall and lift your right knee towards the chest, using your hands to pull the knee towards the belly button. Hold this position and then lower your knee, returning it to the starting position. Do this activity at least 2 to 4 times for each leg. Make sure to keep the core engaged and your spine straight during this static stretch.
The cat and cow stretch work in tandem. For the cat stretch, begin with your hands and knees on the ground, keeping the spine relaxed and parallel to the ground. Next, round your spine outward and pull your hips forward, gently pulling your chin towards your chest. Hold this position. You may then move on to the cow stretch.
It is often used in combination with cat stretch. For cow stretch, start with your hands and knees on the ground, keeping the spine relaxed and parallel to the ground. Next, press your chest forward and sink your belly button towards the floor. Relax the shoulders away from your ears and look straight ahead. Hold this position before moving into the cat stretch.
Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Engage your core and lift your hands over your head. Then, bend at your waist to the right and lean toward the floor. Pulling from your core, return to the starting position. Do the same activity for the other side.
Using a wall, stand with your right foot slightly in front of your left one. Bend your knees slightly. Lean towards the wall while keeping your back knee straight and heel on the ground. Hold this position, relax and then repeat the same for the other leg.
How to Use Physical Therapy for Your Fitness Goals
If you have fitness focused resolutions for the New Year, make an additional resolution to stretch before and after each workout. You will feel the difference, and your body will thank you for the effort. There are many benefits of stretching, but stretching alone cannot alleviate pain or prevent injury, and you need a proper workout plan to look and feel better.
If you are ready to set fitness goals but do not know what to do or where to begin, there is no need to worry as licensed and experienced physical therapists can guide you in making the right decisions. The award-winning therapists at the Physical Therapists NYC determine your body needs and come up with personalized workout plans to achieve desired outcomes successfully and fulfill your New Year’s resolution. The experts can recommend exercises and stretches to get rid of aches and pains you may experience, increase flexibility and help you move better with the best workout routine and stretches.