Many times you’ll hear your coach say to avoid static stretching before your workouts as it can actually be counterproductive to the workout proceeding the activity. Studies have shown that those people who did stretch before training would not lift as high numbers as the group that did NOT stretch. However, stretching before exercise if done PROPERLY can help promote flexibility and proper range of motion. Here are 5 tips to abide by to keep it safe and useful to your training regimen:
1. Identify beforehand what is tight. It is best to know what you have to stretch before you stretch. Pair up with a knowledgeable coach who can identify what muscles are tight just by watching you move. Write down your trouble areas and keep that sheet in your gym bag to refer to before you get into it.
2. Stretch with a purpose. If you are going to perform a movement that is inhibited by a tight muscle, you can and should statically stretch it prior to wodding. For example, if you have tight hamstrings that cause your butt to wink when you squat and you have a heavy squat day, you need to stretch your hamstring complex prior to the WOD to ensure flexibility, proper form and full range of motion is achieved.
3. Stretch correctly. The human body works in specific yet fluid ways. It is possible to stretch something the wrong way or in the wrong direction. Once again, pair up with a knowledgeable coach who can watch and assist you in how to stretch safely and effectively and guide you through the process. Doing this can help mitigate the risk of performing those damaging stretches.
4. Reset the muscles. If you static stretch before you workout, you need to reset the proprioceptors of the muscle in order to return optimum muscle function and strength. This can be done by lightly jogging and then performing ballistic exercises like squat jumps, jump lunges, or med ball throws depending on the muscles stretched. Doing this can help to avoid less than optimal muscle performance throughout the training session.
5. Be consistent. Don’t stop stretching until you have fixed your issues. If you have an issue like a tight lat, you need to fix it. If you don’t fix it, you still have an issue! Stay focused throughout the stretch and move on.
Remember: You CAN static stretch before you workout. Use these tips as a guide to stretch safely before jumping into your next session. Comment below with any additional questions!