We’re all guilty of it; you get to the gym, stash your shiz in the locker room and then immediately get to work either on the treadmill or in a group ex class. We keep our eye on the clock while the sweat pours off and the minutes tick by. There are three minutes left to go and you quickly clean up your space and make a smooth and stealth exit as the instructor wraps up class and leads everyone to the floor to roll those shoulders out or take a child’s post. Most of the time we’re lucky if we’re able to actually get to the gym during the day let alone taking the time to properly warm up or cool down!
BUT as busy as we may be we HAVE to take time to give our bodies the attention it deserves after an exhausting workout. The importance of stretching before and after a training session is so important for anyone who wants to not only sustain a challenging workout program but also to avoid any potential injuries as well.
Let’s discuss the basics:
- Stretching before a workout helps to warm the muscles and prepare them ready for the work ahead.
- Pre-stretching helps to lengthen muscles and provide for a wider range of motion during each drill.
- Post-stretching pulls out and lengthens the muscles that have become tight from impact or resistance.
This can be done by several moves for the upper and the lower body where the runner “tugs” on the muscle group, feeling a slight pull but not discomfort or pain.
Let’s take note from Shawn Johnson’s Full Body Stretching Guide for Nike Training Club! I love these moves because they really target all the major muscle groups and you don’t have to spend a TON of time, because let’s face it, we don’t have any!! Give yourself 3 minutes to cool down and collect your thoughts to these stretches. Hold each pose for 15-30 seconds and don’t bounce or move, stay static once you’ve gone as deep into the stretch as you can.
- Hamstring, Quad and Inner Thigh Stretch
A three-in-one move that’s an absolute must – especially for runners!
- Pretzel Stretch
Targets lower back, glutes, and the outer thigh
- Cat Stretch
Perfect for the lower back and core
- Dog Stretch
Goes after the upper torso and chest
- Triceps Side Arm Stretch
Triceps. And arms. Duh
- Pike Squat Stretch
Legs and lower back for days
For many early 20 and 30 something athletes flexibility is one of the most neglected components of fitness. Daily stretching will not only help you feel better, more limber and more youthful, but improved flexibility will also help prevent injury, increase circulation, and overall well being.
If you’re looking for an even deeper recovery grab hold of your foam roller and go to town!
Images via Nike Training Club and Nike