In the past I was always told to stretch prior to an activity or exercise. Now we are told to warm up prior to stretching. Recommendations to stretch or not change from year to year and from expert to expert.
Researchers Robert Herbert, Ph.D., and Marcos de Noronha, Ph.D. of the University of Sydney conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 10 previously published studies of stretching. In addition to improving range of motion, stretching is extremely relaxing and most athletes use stretching exercises to maintain a balance in body mechanics. But one of the biggest benefits of stretching may be something the research can’t quantify: it just feels good.
My warm up is usually a 3-5 minute walk, slow run or maybe some jumping jacks. If I am working on a specific muscle group with more than usual intensity I might add some stretches that target that specific area.
A standard stretch routine that I like to follow is:
Standing Quadriceps stretch While standing, use the wall to assist in balance.Bend your knee back by grasping your ankle with one hand. Assist in bending your knee back as far as possible. Maintain position for 30 seconds. Return to standing position.
..Inner Thigh Stretch .Stand up tall, feet slightly wider than hip width apart. Turn your right toe out slightly to the side and bend your right leg slightly, keep your left leg straight. Press your hips gently out towards your right leg and feel a mild stretch in the inner thigh/groin area. Make sure that you keep the knee of your bent leg, behind your toe! Hold this stretch, do not bounce, repeat to the other side. …………………………………………………..
.Calf Stretch Stand facing the wall about 3 feet away.Take 1 step forward with your left foot.Place your hands on the wall in front of you. Elbows slightly bent, shoulders, hips and feet are pointed directly towards the wall. Bend your left knee slowly using the movement to control the amount of stretch you feel in your right calf muscle (gastroc). Both heels stay on the ground.Keep your right knee (back leg) straight and hold still for 15 seconds. To stretch the other calf muscle (soleus) in the same leg, slowly bend your right knee, making sure to keep your right heel on the ground. Hold 15 seconds.Slowly push yourself back to starting position. Switch legs and repeat both the straight knee and bent knee stretches on the other leg to completely stretch your calf.
.Lower Back Stretch.Begin in a standing position and exhale as you sweep the arms up and overhead. Exhale and engage the abs as you tip from the hips and lower into a Forward Bend, with hands on the floor or feet–bend the knees if you need to. Inhale and come up until the back is flat and exhale into forward bend. Hang relaxed and hold stretch for 20-30 secs.
Chest/ Arm stretch Extend one arm and bend at the elbow, so that your arm forms a right angle (upper arm is parallel to the ground, and upper arm is sticking straight up). Place your forearm against the wall or frame. Now, twist away from the wall with a special emphasis on pushing your chest through the turn, so that you feel the stretch in your chest...
I prefer to stand during my stretch to improve my balance, but you can have a very effective stretch while seated as well. Again, these are just some basic stretches that I do daily, there are many additional stretches that you may prefer.
-Some helpful links for stretching:
3 basic stretching tips that I follow:
Do warm-up the body before performing any of these exercises.
DON’T bounce during the stretch
DO rest 20 seconds after each stretch
DON’T stretch to the point of intense pain! Take care that you do not pull (or tear) your muscles.