Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Stretching vs. Warm Ups: Aren't They the Same?

I often get asked why I sometimes talk about "Stretching" and other times I talk about the benefits of "warming up". Even though they are two different things, many people think they are the same thing. They are not.

"Warming Up" is the first thing you should do before any workout. I doesn't have to be long, but you do want to raise your body temperature. A short brisk walk or easy jog will do just fine. You want to elevate your heart rate just a bit.

Once you've done this, you can get into "stretching". Many people jump right into stretching and are running the risk of injury by stretching cold muscles. By warming up first, you've raised your body's temperature and you can now stretch easier. I won't get into the different types of stretching, as there are so many sport specific stretches, but basically you want to hit the major muscle groups.

After your main workout, it's a good idea to "cool down". A cool down is an easy walk, or very light jog. You're trying to bring your heart rate down slow and easy. After this, do some more light stretching as well.

This will add some time to your workout, but by doing so, you should train injury-free for years to come. A little extra effort and time up front means less time on the bench (or the couch) recovering.

Happy Trails!

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