Static stretching is the type of stretch that is held for 10-30 seconds, and unfortunately, can do more harm than good if performed before a workout.
Reasons to NOT Stretch Before a Workout
1. Stretching should only be performed on warm muscles. Otherwise it is counter productive. It causes muscles to pull and contract, leaving an exerciser with tighter muscles than before s/he stretched in the first place!
2. It is too relaxing. Its place is after exercise, when the body wants to cool down, and release the tension build up from vigorous exercise. Therefore, stretching before a workout will actually tire you out sooner during the session, and even cause you to not feel like exercising in the first place. Stick to it only after exercise, or before bed.
3. It's mainly used for increasing flexibility. You don't really want your joints to be super flexible before a weight training routine. It may cause injury if your muscles are too loose.
What to do Before a Workout
Dynamic stretching is limbering up with movement. This includes exercises such as: Arm circles, body weight squats, hip thrusts, and high knee raises. This type of stretching effectively prepares the body for exercise both mentally and physically.
Five to ten minutes of cardio will also warm the muscles, increase circulation and tell the body it's time to exercise.
Stretching is very beneficial for injury prevention, increased flexibility, and feeling limber and energetic. If you must perform stretches before a workout (old habits die hard!) then do not hold them for long. Simply place your body in the desired stretching pose and release. You can repeat this a few times without stretching too deeply. If you ever feel any pull or strain, stop immediately!
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