Whether you're an avid fitness enthusiast or someone who doesn't work out at all, incorporating stretching and mobility exercises into your routine offers numerous benefits.
Not only does regular prevent injuries, but they also enhance flexibility, improve posture, increase range of motion, and promote overall well-being. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the importance of stretching and mobility exercises before and after workouts, as well as their relevance for those who don’t engage in regular exercise at all.
Stretching and Mobility Before a Workout
You may often see people in the gym, athletes or anybody who is about to take part in exercise go through a pre-workout stretching and mobility routine.
So why is this so important?
Simply put, before diving into your workout routine, it's crucial to prepare your body properly, and these are the reasons why:
Enhanced muscle elasticity: One of the more obvious reasons people use stretching and mobility exercises prior to a workout is because stretching helps warm up your muscles, making them more pliable and less prone to injury during exercise.
Improved performance: Proper mobility and flexibility allow you to perform exercises with better form, leading to increased efficiency and better results. By doing this from the get go, you may find that you can lift more and progressive overload sooner than you would have otherwise.
Increased blood flow: Stretching increases blood circulation to your muscles, delivering essential nutrients and oxygen, and removing waste products. This will then result in better performance overall and greater recovery efficiency.
Types of Stretching and Mobility
There are different kinds of mobility exercises, so there really is something to suit everyone. If you’re somebody who can’t go for larger movements and would rather go for stationary stretching you can. While those who prefer some movement would benefit from a range of dynamic stretches.
These are the most common types of movement for increased mobility when you exercise or, for your day to day life.
Dynamic Stretching & Mobility
Dynamic stretching involves moving your body through a full range of motion in a controlled manner. These exercises help elevate your heart rate, increase body temperature, and prepare your muscles for more intense activity.
Some dynamic stretching examples include leg swings, arm circles, and walking lunges.
Static stretching involves holding a stretch for an extended period, typically 15 to 60 seconds.
It targets specific muscles or muscle groups and is best performed after a workout when your muscles are warm. Common static stretches for mobility include hamstring stretches, quad stretches, and shoulder stretches.
Mobility exercises focus on improving joint function and range of motion. They aim to enhance flexibility and alleviate muscle tightness. Incorporating exercises like hip circles, shoulder rolls, and ankle rotations into your pre-workout routine can promote joint health and prevent injuries.
Stretching and Mobility After a Workout
Post-workout stretching is equally essential for optimising recovery and minimising muscle soreness. Here's why it matters:
Muscle Recovery: Mobility stretching exercises after a workout helps relax and elongate muscles that have contracted during exercise, aiding in their recovery process and a reduction in DOMS.
Reducing muscle soreness: Stretching can alleviate the buildup of lactic acid and decrease muscle tension, resulting in reduced post-workout soreness.
Enhancing flexibility: Consistent post-workout stretching helps maintain and improve flexibility, allowing for a fuller range of motion over time
Foam rolling, also known as self-myofascial release, involves using a foam roller to apply pressure to tight muscles, promoting self-massage and relaxation. It helps break up muscle knots, improve blood flow, and increase tissue elasticity. Foam rolling can be done after a workout to aid in muscle recovery and reduce post-exercise tightness.
Stretching and Mobility for Non-Exercisers
Even if you don't engage in regular exercise, incorporating stretching and mobility exercises into your daily routine offers several benefits, some of which includes:
Improved posture: Stretching can help correct imbalances and alleviate muscle tightness caused by prolonged sitting or sedentary lifestyles.
Stress relief: Stretching promotes relaxation and reduces muscle tension, which can help relieve stress and promote a sense of well-being.
Enhanced flexibility: Consistent stretching can increase flexibility and joint mobility, making everyday movements easier and more comfortable. As well as that, your form and technique during lifting will be greatly improved too.
Daily Stretching and Mobility Exercise for Sedentary People
If you don't work out regularly, consider implementing a simple daily stretching routine, this can help ease you into daily movements and help reduce the risk of things like arthritis or other alike health implications, especially if you’re older.
You’ll also be less prone to injury, though it may seem like a small task, small steps can go a long way so don’t underestimate the power of daily stretching!
Neck stretches: Gently tilt your head from side to side and forward and backward.
Chest opener: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and clasp your hands behind your back, then lift your arms while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
Standing quadriceps stretch: Grab your ankle or foot behind you and pull it toward your glutes, feeling a stretch in the front of your thigh.
Standing hamstring stretch: Place one foot on a raised surface and hinge forward at the hips until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your thigh.
Stretching and mobility exercises are essential components of a well-rounded fitness routine, benefiting both active individuals and those who don’t work out alike.
Tips to Maximise the Benefits of Mobility Stretches
To ensure you maximise the benefits of stretching and mobility exercises, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Warm Up Before Stretching
Before engaging in any stretching routine, it's important to warm up your body with light aerobic exercises such as brisk walking or cycling. This helps increase blood flow to your muscles and raises your core temperature, making your muscles more pliable and less prone to injury during stretching.
Focus on Proper Technique
Pay attention to your form and technique during stretching exercises. Perform each mobility stretch slowly and gently, avoiding any bouncing or jerking movements that can lead to muscle strains. Listen to your body and avoid pushing beyond your comfort zone or feeling pain during stretches.
Breathe and Relax
Breathing deeply and maintaining a relaxed state while stretching can enhance the effectiveness of your stretches. Take slow, deep breaths and exhale as you deepen into each stretch, this will allow for greater ROM and a better stretch all round.
Gradually Increase Intensity
When it comes to static stretches, start with mild to moderate intensity and gradually increase the stretch over time. Avoid overstretching or forcing your body into uncomfortable positions, as this can lead to injury. Consistency and gradual progression are key to improving flexibility, taking part in things like yoga or pilates can help too and make the process of progression much more enjoyable.
Listen to Your Body
Everyone's body is unique, so it's important to listen to your body's signals during stretching and mobility exercises. If you feel any sharp or severe pain, stop the stretch immediately. It's normal to feel tension and mild discomfort, but pain is an indication that you're pushing too hard or doing the stretch incorrectly. If you need help be sure to ask a personal trainer to help you out.
To experience the long-term benefits of stretching and mobility exercises, consistency is vital. Incorporate stretching into your routine at least three times a week, and aim for a minimum of 10-15 minutes per session. Consistency will help maintain and improve your flexibility over time.
FREE Stretching and Mobility Routine
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Before you Go…
By incorporating pre- and post-workout stretching into your exercise regimen or integrating a simple stretching routine into your daily life, you can experience improved flexibility, reduced muscle soreness, enhanced joint mobility, and overall better physical and mental well-being.
Remember, consistency is key, so make stretching and mobility exercises a regular part of your routine to reap the maximum benefits.