Even though some experts believe that stretching is a waste of time and might increase your risk of injury, I personally feel it does the complete opposite – promotes self body awareness, prevents injuries, and increases mental relaxation and centering. There is a ton of research out there that supports both sides of these claims, so really, it is up to you to decide what’s best for you.
A general consensus is that a workout should look something like this:
- Warm up: A warm up of 5-15 minutes of similar activity that you will be doing in your workout that day. It should be at a lower intensity than your actual workout.
- Stretches: These stretches should be dynamic in nature and can be blended into your warm up. Dynamic flexibility is the ability to move a limb through its full range of motion. You can see examples of this here and here.
- Exercises: This is the “meat” of your workout. It can be a cardio format, weights, or a blend of both. Always go into your workout with some sort of loose plan. Determine your format, intensity, and duration before you actually perform it.
- Cooldown: Just like the warm up, cool down for 5-15 minutes at a lower intensity with similar exercises to the actual workout.
- Stretches: These stretches can be static (holding exercises for 20-30 seconds) as shown here and here, or facilitated (a blend of active and passive stretches) as shown here. Yoga can be a blend of both types depending on the exercises performed. You can check out some gentle yoga stretches here and here. Any of these stretches can be incorporated into your cool down.
Are you a fan of stretching? Do you stretch before or after your workouts?