Stretching serves multiple functions, and based on which stretch you are doing and when, the effects will vary too. In general, though, stretching is used to relax the muscles and ligaments, so that blood flow can increase in specific sections of the body, as well as throughout the vascular system. Today, we are going to concentrate on some of the easier pre-workout stretches, as well as explain why they are necessary in the first place.

Pre-Workout Stretches: Why We Do them

Increased blood flow from pre-workout stretches reduces any chance of getting injured while you work. The warmup also makes every workout more effective because it eases the flow of blood throughout the body, and especially to certain muscles that you may use during heavy lifting. Increased fresh blood flow also means increased strength and stamina, which translates to a better and more charged workout session.

Lunge and Twist

The primary target areas in this two-stretch combo are the hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes, upper back and middle back. Additionally, it will engage core rotation, which is an often neglected and very important part of warming up.
Do a forward lunge while making sure that the knee does not cross the toes at any point. After you have assumed the perfect lunging position by dropping your hips low, rotate your upper body on the same side as the front leg at that point. Hold for a few seconds and then repeat the same with the other leg. Do everything slowly and with control.

High Kick

Extend your left arm and keep it straight, and then kick your palm with your toes. Repeat the same with the right arm after a few kicks. There are however, some important rules to consider first:
• Keep your hand at an angle which makes your kick upwards
• Keep your palms low enough so that you don’t end up overstretching your hamstrings and/or glutes
• Don’t kick too fast or too hard; be in control
• Your hands and the torso are not supposed to move – although they will tend to, try to resist
• Gradually increase the height of your palm

Knee to Chest

The old knee to chest stretch is actually an effective beginner’s exercise for Muay Thai fighters to warm up as well.
The idea is to bring your knee towards your chest while standing first. Now hug your shin lightly and keep the leg held close to your chest. Try to raise your toes on the balancing leg and once you manage to get it right, hold for few seconds before moving on to the other leg.

Should We Stretch our Muscles Post Workout?

Here is a part which so many new gym joiners get wrong, so let’s understand the difference between correct post-workout stretches and incorrect post-workout stretches first. There is just one very important rule here, and it has nothing to do with the actual stretching exercises themselves. If your muscles are pumped, tight and tense after a workout, you need to give your body some time to let go of the accumulated blood in the swollen muscles. If you are feeling pumped after a solid resistance training session and decide to go for a stretch right after, a painful injury is just around the corner!

Contrary to popular belief, even wrong or excess stretching can cause an injury. It’s best to always consider your own medical/physical conditions first and then consult with your gym trainer before proceeding with any advanced stretches.