I know. You’re lucky if you can fit in a workout much less time to stretch. The good news is there are mixed feelings about the benefits of stretching in the health community, although I’ve never been to a class that didn’t at least end with a few stretches of key muscle groups.
Most experts agree now-a-days that the static stretch PRE workout is not a good idea. And most everyone we talked to agrees that warming up is key, with active or dynamic stretching, and/or a slow pace before you kick into high gear.
Advantages? We’ve interviewed several PTs at OrthoCarolina over the past couple of years on this topic, and here are key points:
- Elongating muscles helps to remedy imbalances around our joints, so stretching can help lessen the risk of injury during workouts.
- Stretching also increases blood flow to muscles, reducing the chance of spasms and improving circulation.
- Sitting for long periods of time can tighten your hamstrings and hip flexors, but simple stretches can help counteract these effects.
- Instead of stretching each joint 10 times, I say to do two or three stretches for 30 seconds to a minute for your calves, hamstrings and quads.
- A common injury are myofascial trigger points, which are those knots that people get. They literally feel like your muscle is on fire. That just comes from not warming up and stretching. More severe injuries that I often see in athletes are ruptured achilles tendons. That happens when a person hasn’t warmed up adequately, and that tendon wasn’t ready to bear a quick load on a muscle that’s cold ~ and the tissue just ruptures.
- Stretch immediately after [sic] because you’re warm. Don’t wait 10 or 15 minutes until you’ve cooled down because then you’ll be stretching on a cold muscle. And, speaking from personal experience, I see more injuries when people don’t stretch.
What do the Charlotte fitness folks ~ who workout a ridiculous amount, almost like it’s their job or something ~ have to say? We asked them to share thoughts and stretches, and got some great tips.
Bekah Eljundi, Regional Head Trainer
Find her on the schedule at Orangetheory Fitness The Arboretum
As a runner and run coach I feel it is imperative to do a dynamic stretch before a workout and a good stretch after a workout. A good dynamic stretch before a workout is great to increase movement at the joints such as arm circles, leg swings, stepping runners lunge etc. After a workout that includes running, the most important areas to stretch are hips/hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
Shawna Baker, Owner/Instructor
I prefer to stretch post workout. I prefer to work the muscles to fatigue then stretch and lengthen them out. My 3 fav stretches use the barre of course
- Attitude on the barre to stretch the glutes. It’s just like a Figure 4 stretch, but your foot is on the barre instead of across the knee.
- Ballet Stretches on the barre
- Parallel Leg – facing the barre. One leg is on the barre fully extended to the barre with the arch of the foot resting on the barre, body hinges forward with a flat back toward the barre. Great for stretching the glutes and hamstrings
- External Rotation – side to barre. One leg is on the barre fully extended to the barre with the arch of the foot resting on the barre, slightly in front on body, outside arm reaches over toward the barre. Great for stretching the side body.
- Thigh/Hip Stretch back to barre. The top of one foot is on the barre, hands are on hips, bend supporting leg and press through hip flexor.
Liz Hilliard Owner/Instructor
Static stretching prior to working out is not an effective way to warm up the body. In fact, doing so when muscles are not warm can lead to injury. Stretching post workout feels good and allows the body to cool down safely.
Research has proven that people who strength trained three times a week became just as flexible (and in some cases more) than those who only stretched three times a week. At Hilliard Studio Method we heat up the muscles with dynamic movements through strength and resistance using weights, bands and/or weighted balls, and then immediately stretch the muscle after it’s worked, as well as at the end of class giving you a sleeker physique and increased flexibility.
Lauryn Kobiela, Trainer
Stretching is a must do for me before and after I work out I played college basketball and have pulled muscles and hurt my back way too often because I had not stretched well enough. I make sure to stretch out my quads and hamstrings and especially my hip flexors (tight hips means sad squats!). I make sure to listen to my body and what feels tight and then focus my attention in that area.
Flywheel Instructor, Shane Lucas
Stretching is a must!! My go-to stretch is Rag Doll with my arms bound behind my back. This forward fold has the capacity to release the hamstrings and the low back while opening the shoulders to release tension from the upper back through the crown of the head. I would call it the ‘Superman’ stretch because it has a grounding essences while stirring vitality in the body. If this stretch is done with a concentration of breath into the lungs (not the belly), this stretch will increases blood circulation, clear the mind & allow you to let go of mental & physical tension.
After every Flywheel class I teach, we end with Rag Doll. I ask riders to focus on their breath to allow their FLY experience to be reflective & absorbed. I do this so riders have one last opportunity for release before heading back to their lives.
FlyBarre Instructor, Kelly Johnson
I stretch after every workout, without fail. I also teach a class called Tone & Stretch, which is an amazing 60-minute FlyBarre method class that incorporates a special focus on stretching after the burn-out and fatigue of each muscle group. The stretching compliments the toning as it elongates and lengthens the exhausted muscles. It’s a fantastic addition to your workout routine and is perfect to do on your workout “off day” as it’s much more restorative than your traditional FlyBarre class. Tone & Stretch is offered Thursday’s at 7:00AM, Saturday’s at 3:30PM, and Sunday’s at 7:15AM.
My “must do” stretch is the figure four where one leg crosses over the other. I love this one because it is appropriate after any type of exercise. While figure four can be executed lying down, seated, or standing, the standing figure four is most effective for me because it relieves my occasional sciatic nerve pain after an intense workout. Hold on to the barre or handle bars of your Flywheel bike and cross your right leg over the left so that your right ankle is resting on the knee of your supporting leg. While keeping your chest lifted, create a long, straight spine, sit back, and hold for 30 seconds or more to maximize the stretch. Keep your left shin perpendicular to the ground so your knee does not over or under extend. Stand up and repeat with the opposite leg. The figure four releases the glutes, hip muscles, and lower back all in one stretch!