6 Stretches To Get The Most Out Of Your Workout
You went for a run aaand now you’re aching...
PRE-WORKOUT: DYNAMIC STRETCHING
So you’ve got your favorite outfit on and perfect shoes to match, but hold up! Before you start the nitty-gritty, sweaty workout stuff, it’s helpful to get your muscles warmed up so you don’t take ‘em by surprise. Dynamic stretching means you stretch with movement instead of holding one position like a frozen flamingo. “But nooo! I like being a flamingo!” you say. Well...sure, that’s nice. However, dynamic stretching actually mimics the activity your muscles will do in your workout and improves body coordination so that you’re better prepped for exercise.
TL;DR: Your body will love you. Don’t be a flamingo.
1. The Put-Some-Lean-Into-It Stretch
This stretch will help loosen up those hips! First, step forward with your left leg into a lunge, making sure your left knee doesn’t extend past your toes. Second, slowly raise your right arm over your head and twist your upper body toward your left side. Bring everything back to center and repeat on the other side for a total of 10 times.
2. The (K)need-Some-Flexibility Stretch
This one seriously feels good. Bring one knee straight up toward your chest and sustain the stretch by holding it up with your hands. If you can, stand on your toes to raise your foot off the ground and increase the stretch. Repeat on the other side for a total of 10 times.
3. The Rock-and-Roll Stretch
Your shoulders will thank you for this, and it’s pretty simple! Hold one hand to your core for stability while you slowly circle your other arm around...and around...and around. Fun, right? Repeat on the other side for a total of 10 times.
POST-WORKOUT: STATIC STRETCHING
Okay, now it’s flamingo time. After your workout, you can do static stretching. This type of stretch is when you hold one position still for a certain amount of time. This is great for after your workout since it lengthens your muscles and might keep them from contracting too much after exercising, which means fewer aches and pains. Yay! Just make sure you do this while your body is still warm.
1. The Sit-on-an-Invisible-Chair Stretch
Often overlooked, the glutes (yes, we’re talking about your booty!) are some large muscles involved in a lot of everyday activities (think walking, sitting, stepping, etc.). So, yes, it’s a real pain if they’re sore. For this stretch, raise your right leg so it is turned out and your right ankle is resting above your left knee. Bend into a squat and use your right elbow to push down on your right leg to increase the stretch. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then repeat on other side.
2. The Abs(olutely)-Yes-I-Love-This Stretch
Looks like yoga; feels like heaven. First, lie flat on your stomach and place your hands flat on the floor. Second, slowly push your upper body up off the floor to stretch your six-pack abs in all their visible (or maybe not-so-visible) glory. Keep your shoulders down as you hold this position for 30 seconds.
3. The Step-With-All-You’ve-Got Stretch
This stretch targets your hip flexors, another pesky set of muscles that can be a pain...literally. Similar to a lunge, take a long step with your right foot and place both hands on the ground (right hand on the outside of the right foot). Make sure your right knee does not bend past your toes, and hold the stretch for a good 15 seconds. Slowly step out of the lunge and repeat on the other side.
Don’t fret: Being sore is natural.
While stretching won’t take away all the soreness from exercising, it can help keep the joy in staying active! Let’s be real: A great workout starts with a positive mindset and the right gear, especially your shoes.
Photography by Sarah Stone / Lauren Zaser / Dana Vogel. Design by Kirby Darland.