Exercises that increase flexibility are key to a good warm-up. One thing often overlooked in regards to stretching is the importance of strengthening the muscle through the newly created range of motion. If you don’t strengthen the muscle through the new range of motion you are creating, you could potentially cause instability and eventually injury. Active stretching has been created to strengthen the muscle while creating the new range of motion. Here are three active stretches you should be doing before any cardio or strength activities.
This exercise has been called the greatest stretch in the world.
Lateral flexibility and movement are often neglected in most workout programs. If all you are doing is cardio you might never move laterally.
Children often learn to stand starting in this position. The flexibility created from this stretch is great for creating a healthy range of motion for many different lower body exercises.
Active vs. Static Stretching
There are many different ways to stretch your muscles, among them:
- Static Stretching-holding a stretch in a challenging but comfortable position for a set time -usually between 10-30 seconds.
- Active Stretching-stretching a muscle by relaxing it and using the opposing muscle to initiate the stretch
Active stretching is more of a challenge than static stretching. These movements are harder to maintain, so they aren’t held as long as a static stretching exercise. Usually about 10 seconds is needed for proper effectiveness, and never more than 20 seconds.
Remember, you should always do some form of stretching before a work out. It will help you have a better workout, be less sore, and prevent many injuries.
Roll it Out
Another way to prevent soreness and improve muscle health is to “roll out” using a foam roller. The Myofascial Release Roller is a unique fitness component. Though not many people know what “Myofascial” means, nearly everyone experiences the effects of Myofascial pain and restricted motion. The foam Myofascial Release Roller allows you to massage, stretch and ultimately release tense muscles.
This is especially important after a workout, when all the muscles are contracted. Without releasing those muscles and getting the blood circulating throughout your body again, your workouts will become less effective and you are likely to suffer pain or injury.
Don’t Let Stretching Scare You
Whatever you do, don’t let stretching be daunting or intimidating. It’s an important component of exercise that will make you stronger and leave you healthier in the long run.
Now that you’ve stretched, you’re ready to try something harder. Give our IdealShape Up Challenge a try: