There has been much debate about the value of stretching before a workout. New research suggests that traditional pre-workout stretching might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Focusing on mobility may be the key to getting the most out of both your workout and your body.
Implementing dynamic stretching could be a great start in preparing for physical activity. What that means is warming up and stretching the body in a way that utilizes movement. Dynamic stretching uses slow controlled movements, where as static stretching implements holding a position for a duration of time. By completing moves that mimic those you’ll be doing in your routine, like in dynamic stretching, the body will be adequately prepared for whatever workout, practice, or game lies ahead. Both dynamic and static stretching have mobility benefits, but before you begin stretching you want to make sure your muscles are warm. Warming up increases blood flow to the muscles, which in turn makes your muscles more pliable, ready for stretching.
It’s also a good idea to prepare for movement maintenance by picking up a few useful tools such as a resistance band and a foam roller. Picking up a tennis ball to roll away any muscle tenseness with some self-induced deep tissue massage might also be a good idea. When rolling or working on tight/sore muscles you will experience discomfort or pain. Think of it like the pain you get while stretching – it should be uncomfortable, but not unbearable. When you are done it should feel much better and can do wonders for tight muscles by breaking up scar tissue and improving circulation. After you have sufficiently rolled the soreness out of your muscles you can turn your attention to the resistance band. Resistance bands can be used in any number of ways to apply tension or traction to muscles. They can also aid in stretching long limbs once your body is warmed up.
Maximizing mobility doesn’t have to take months or years, check mobility before and after each stretch session to assess effectiveness.