While stretching may appear a bit bland when compared with resistance exercises such as free weights and weight training exercises, without a good stretch, all your hard work at the gym will not be complete.
Make the most of your time at the gym! Here are some tips to improve your post-workout stretching routine:
How to stretch the right way
- Make sure you are calm and relaxed.
- Stretch in slow, deliberate movements.
- Don’t rush through it – hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds.
- You can hold a stretch for even a minute if you need an extra relaxing session.
- Slight discomfort in a stretch is to be expected but avoid pain.
- Use your breath to help you: inhale to hold, exhale to deepen the stretch.
- Try to go deeper into the pose with each exhale.
- Protect your knees: when doing stretches such as High or Low Lunge, make sure your knee doesn’t go over your toes. This is unnecessary and puts additional efforts on the joints.
When to stretch
- It’s hard to gain flexibility and to maintain it. Aim for at least 3 stretching sessions per week.
- Don’t forget to stretch at your desk at work. In fact, that’s what makes stretching great – you can do it anywhere.
- Make your sessions between 10 and 20 minutes long.
- Always warm up before starting a workout and finish up with a stretching session.
- During the summer months, stretch in the morning before work or later in the evening to avoid heat.
- If you recently got injured, please consult your doctor before attempting any kind of stretching regimen.
Although it seems easier to get into the habit of stretching some muscle groups more than stretching others, it is important you don’t skip any of the major muscle groups. If your workout or the sport you play is heavily focused on a certain muscle group, make time to include extra stretches that target these muscles.