“Make sure you warm up before you go run, you don’t want to pull a muscle,” this sounds like a common saying a lot of coaches tell an athlete.
It is true you want to warm up properly before you go do a workout or go play sports, but are you warming up the right way? Is stretching bad for you? Well, that depends what you are about to do.
When I was running in college it was crucial you warmed up properly before you ran a race, which is a no brainer. You have a greater chance of suffering from an injury, your times will be slower and your your running mechanics will be off if you didn’t warm up. So when a coach says “go warm up” the majority of you will probably start stretching, right? Its pretty much automatic, its what we were told in school as kids, its what we see on television and movies, its the “standard”. What if I told you thats wrong? What if I told you stretching is bad for you before you go out and play?
You must think I’m crazy for saying that, well truth be told there are better and more efficient ways to warm up than the good old bend over and touch your toes.
Now I’m not saying you should never stretch because I stretch every day, sometimes before bed so I can sleep better. What I’m saying stretching is bad for you to do before an athletic activity IF you want a better performance. Alright, so what is the best way to warm up before an activity?
Dynamic warm up is the way to go.
Dynamic warmup is a series of different movements that will increase your range of motion, body temperature and activate your nervous system the right way. It has a lot more benefits compared to stretching.
You may ask what is the difference between dynamic warmups and stretching?
Stretching is static, which means you hold that position before a set period of time. You start feeling that warm sensation when you stretching such as when you sit on the ground and extend your leg and try to touch your toes. Let me ask you this, where do you feel the “stretch” the warm sensation? I’m going to assume you feel it at the top of your hamstring near your glute and towards the knee. Do you feel anything in the middle of the hamstring? Most likely not.
Basically what stretching does it literally pulling your muscles apart from the end of the tendons, so when you go out and start doing sprints you have a better chance of injuring yourself. Dynamic warmup includes a series of different movements to generate heat and increase flexibility that makes your body warm before an activity. A couple of different moments consist of leg swings, arm circles, fire hydrants and many more. When continuously do these movements your muscles will start activating and firing the properly way, where static stretching does not. From an performance base standpoint, dynamic stretching is the way to go, static stretching should be done after a workout.
I may be bagging on stretching, but I’m not saying you should never stretch!
After an intense workout you should always cool down by walking it off and doing some light stretching afterwards. Stretching does provide lots of health benefits such as better posture, less aches and pains and better flexibility, aka yoga. Lots of athletes do yoga to help with their flexibility and clear their mind, but they don’t do this before an intense workout. So my advice to you is you combine a dynamic warmup and static stretching to your daily workouts to help prevent injuries and increase your athletic performance goals.