Preparing your body pre-workout is vital to ensure you have a healthy mind and body before, during and after exercise. Sometimes it can be hard enough finding the time and motivation to get to the gym, meet the personal trainer or squeeze in that workout after work but by preparing yourself with a healthy nutritious balanced diet and stretching before you begin you can allow your body the perfect to start to get the most from your exercise and workouts.
Before you even begin attacking the treadmill, weights, exercise class or pounding the pavement for miles it is vital that you gently warm up the muscles and stretch them out. This will help your body to prepare and reduce the risk of injury and pulled muscles. A warm-up could be a brisk walk from between work and your exercise destination or it could be on the treadmill or exercise bike. Once you have warmed up the body it is time to stretch those muscles pre-workout.
Important point… It is vital to remember that you should never over stretch your muscles. Only work within the range that is comfortable for you. When you feel the stretch working hold for a count or 10-15 then repeat on the opposite side.
There are two types of stretches, static ones where you hold a stretch for a chosen count, 10-15 is a good starting point or dynamic stretches where you add movement such as circling your arms around while out stretched. You should combine a combination of both types of stretches to provide your body with the best start.
Either work from the top of your body down or work from the bottom up, either way, is fine but choosing to methodically will ensure all areas of the body are fully prepared.
Head and Neck
Simply loosen the head and neck and neck muscles by gently tilting the head from left to right (ear towards shoulder) and then forward and backwards. Complete this slowly to avoid causing any damage.
Shoulders and Arms
Roll the shoulders forwards and backwards and then shrug your shoulders up and down, lift your arms above your head and with straight arms reach up feeling the gentle stretch into your shoulders and shoulder blades.
Reach out your arms to the side and create gentle circles with them that go from large to small and small to large. One at a time pull your arm in across the front of your body and hold it in the crease of your elbow, this stretch should be felt across the side of the shoulder and into the arm.
Hips and Back
Lie on your back with your feet on the floor, knees bent. With a gentle motion let your knees fall to the ground left then right. You should feel the lower back and hips loosen up and stretch. After sit up and place the soles of your feet together with your legs bent (bottom on the floor). Hold your feet with your hands and with a straight back aim to push your knees to the ground, only go as far as comfortable, draw your feet in closer towards your body if you find the stretch easy.
Next, lie on your back and bring both knees up to your chest, hug your knees holding them close to you, this will help to stretch the back out.
Hamstrings and Calf
One of the most important stretches to complete as damage to our hamstrings can easily cause pain not only in the immediate area but also in your back. Standing upright bend in half reaching your hands as close to the ground as possible. Keep the legs straight and you should feel the stretch gently down the back of the legs and into the hamstrings. This is a basic stretch but there are many more options you can look online if you suffer from tight hamstrings.
Finally, the calf muscles but are an important one especially if you cycle or run. Find a step or curb height surface and stand with your toes on the surface and your heels over the edge. Drop your heels to the ground leaving your toes resting on the surface you should feel the stretch at the back of the calf muscles.
Remember the most important aspect of stretching pre-workout is to only stretch to the point that is comfortable for you otherwise you will cause injury and pain, and don’t forget to stretch again after your workout is complete.