Stretching is one of the easiest and most effective ways to help improve flexibility, mobility and reduce our risk of injury both during and after training.
The problem is, so many of us just do not make the time to stretch or, if we do, we do not engage in the correct stretches.
Choosing when and how we stretch is a sure-fire way to increase our overall range of movement, helping to boost our fitness as we can workout harder when our mobility is at its peak.
Going through a range of stretches both before and after a workout is essential.
The types of stretches our bodies need pre-exercise and post-training however are different and choosing the right ones can unlock more from our muscles, while taking the strain off our hard-working joints.
Best Pre-Workout Stretches
The key to warming up our bodies ahead of a training session is to stretch using flowing movements that actively work through a range of motions. Also known as dynamic stretches, this type of stretching is the opposite of static stretching that can actually negatively impact our bodies if done before working out.
Flow / dynamic stretches are designed to prepare our bodies for what’s ahead and involve moving a muscle group or joint through an entire range of motion.
Making sure to stretch and warm-up the specific muscle group or body part that will be used most during the workout is especially important.
Cat-Camel (Standing or Kneeling)
Hip / Shoulder / Knee Rotations
Dynamic stretches should imitate the workout ahead, but are done at a lower intensity and can also include moves like jumping jacks, jump squats and jogging on the spot.
We should all aim to be doing at least three minutes of flowing stretches before each workout.
Best Post-Exercise Stretches
Once we’ve completed a HIIT session or other type of workout, our body temperature has risen and our muscles can handle more active stretching and longer holds.
Static stretching post-exercise involves stretching a specific muscle to its full extent (without pain) and holding for a minimum of 15-30 seconds.
Holding positions like a quad stretch or hip opener for around two minutes for each stretch – each side is ideal.
Putting aside at least five minutes to stretch following a training session also allows our bodies to cool down and our muscles to slowly relax, preventing injury and tightness.
By combining the proper stretching routine with regular CrossFit workouts we can all benefit from better flexibility and fitness.