Upgrade Your Warm-Up! Skip static stretching…
You may remember middle school physical training when your coach always led a group stretch before the activities for the day. Placing tension from a stationary position, or without movement, is considered static stretching. Times have changed and now research is showing that not only does static stretching before exercise reduce performance, but it may also cause damage to the working muscles.
What’s the answer?
Upgrade your warm-up by utilizing “dynamic stretching”—moving through the range of motion while also getting the body warmed up and prepared for exercise. Three Epic Fitness favorites are the World’s Greatest Stretch (Elbow to Instep), the Handwalk, and Leg Swings.
Some of the benefits to a dynamic warm-up include:
- Increase core body temperature
- Safely elongate muscles through their range of motion
- Prepare the body for the movements to be performed
- Activate the nervous system
- Improve power and agility
Don’t throw away your static stretching routine completely, research is showing that slowly stretching warm muscles (after exercise) can improve both range of motion and long term performance. The key is to implement your static stretches at the end of your workouts as a part of your cool-down before heading for the shower. Focus on chronically tight areas like the hamstrings and glutes, but also consider addressing the quadriceps, lower back, and smaller muscles as well.