To Stretch or Not to Stretch before your Walk, Run, Bike etc…

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The word on the street is that we shouldn’t be stretching before our workout but only afterwards when our muscles are all warmed up.  This news, which came out a few years ago, was welcomed by the many time-crunched exercisers who were just happy to find the time to get out the door to walk or run, never mind adding in the time for stretching beforehand.  This has been particularly true this spring as we just want to get er done before the sun disappears again.

If you already have a stretching regime before and after your workout and your body feels great while you are doing your activity and afterwards then you got something good going on.  If, on the other hand your hips and/or back start to tighten up within 5-10  minutes of your activity and/or you are stiff afterwards and the next day you may want to consider adding in a few dynamic ( moving) stretches before your activity.  Notice if things feel a little looser and smoother during your walk or run and how you feel afterwards.

The following movements are designed to be quick and effective for the hip area.  They are the minimum that I do before a walk or run.  Like many of you, “if I have time” I will add a few more.  You can walk for a bit ( 5 minutes) then stop and do them or just ensure your muscles are warm before you go through the sequence.  The front thigh stretch ( quadriceps) is a static holding stretch which I think is ok to do as the ones beforehand are nicely warming.   And, don’t forget to enjoy your post activity lay on the floor stretch as this is when we can increase our flexibility when the muscles are warm and pliable.

Below are my 3 favourites.  I do 5 reps of the first movement.  I move forward and back between hip flexor ( front of pelvis) and hamstring/Calf back taking a couple of breaths with each movement.  I do 3 side bends…..reaching up to the sky first and then over to the side then finish with a 20-30 second holding front thigh stretch.  I do all on one leg then the other.  Notice how you feel when you add these few short minutes in to your regime.

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Enjoy your day!

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Lorrie Mickelson, M.A., B.A./BPHE, Registered Yoga Teacher, Certified Pilates Instructor, Certified Personal Trainer,, 705 647 2848.