Finding time in your busy schedule to work out is tough. When you do have an extra half hour to yourself, you likely jump right on the treadmill or the bike and take off, going as fast as you can to burn as many calories as you can in your short amount of time. This can actually be dangerous. If you don’t take time to stretch before you work out, your muscles will not be properly warmed up and your risk of injury will be higher than if you had taken the time to stretch. You should also stretch after your workout. In addition, according to Reuters, “experts say . . . stretching can help you sharpen your performance, stave off injury, perk up your posture and even boost your mood.”
Static vs. Dynamic
You don’t have to make a big production of your stretch time; 5-10 minutes is all you really need. Consider doing a mix of static and dynamic stretching during your warm up and cool down time. Reuters explains, “A static stretch is essentially a stretch held in one position; dynamic stretching involves active movements.” For example, a static stretch would consist of pulling one arm across the body and holding that position for 30 seconds. A dynamic stretch might be shoulder rotations or jumping jacks.
Safety during stretching
Just be sure that when you stretch, you don’t push your body further than it can go. Jessica Mathews of the American Council on Exercise says for stretches to be “safe and effective, they should be held only to the point of tension—never to the point of pain.” Also, you should never bounce during your static stretching. According to the Mayo Clinic, this may cause small tears in the muscle. You should also be careful if you have a chronic condition that may be exacerbated by stretching—talk to your doctor for questions on what kinds of stretching would work best for you.