How to Stretch Correctly (4 Routines to Try)
Today, you’re going to learn how to stretch.
If your warm-up is the appetizer, and your workout is the main course, than the post-work stretch is your dessert.
Sure, you can NOT eat dessert…but that will make your night feel incomplete.
And not stretching – especially after a strength based workout – could be cutting your progress short!
In this guide, we’ll share why you should NOT stretch before your workout, but you SHOULD stretch after your training,
I’ll also provide you with video instructions for multiple routines to try out!
Because I’m nice like that.
Also, if you’re stretching as part of a strength training routine, you might be interested in our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program. We don’t just focus on weight loss, but helping people level up their entire lives. That includes nutrition, mobility, goal setting, and even overcoming fears and becoming an actual superhero.
We’d love to have you check it out if this sounds like something up your alley!
Okay let’s get limber!
Should I stretch Before or After A Workout?
As pointed out in this consolidation of studies, there aren’t many benefits to static stretching before workouts.
For starters, static stretching will not result in the reduction of chance of injury, for starters.
Also, static stretching can actually decrease your potential for strength gains and performance.
Now, stretching AFTER a workout CAN be helpful, but not for the reasons you’d expect!
Stretching hasn’t been proven to reduce soreness or improve one’s recovery time, but stretching CAN help improve flexibility.
This is super helpful if you have the flexibility and mobility of this robot:
So why bother stretching after a workout? As pointed out above, your strength output will decrease following a stretching routine (you ARE strength training, right?).
So stretching after a workout allows you to work on flexibility and mobility without needing to worry about losing your strength!
In this nerd’s opinion, I personally find that stretching – even a tiny bit AFTER a workout – can be beneficial. This article over on Tim Ferriss’s Blog explains it well:
“When you lift a weight your muscles contract. And after the workout the muscles remain contracted for some time. The following restoration of the muscles’ length is what recovery is. Until the muscle has restored its length, it has not recovered.
Hence he who does not stretch his muscles slows down the recuperation process and retards his gains.” Besides, tension and relaxation are the two sides of the same coin, “if the muscle forgets how to lengthen, it will contract more poorly. And that is stagnation of strength.”
And with improved flexibility comes improved performance in almost all areas of life (yup, even THAT).
Also, as you get older, your flexibility and mobility start to go…making you FEEL older.
If you can stay flexible, you’re more likely to stay happy and healthy for far longer.
Staying flexible keeps you active, and staying active keeps you young.
Beginner Stretching Routine VideoS
Now, after working out, HOW should you stretch depends on a few factors: Your particular fitness level, your level of flexibility, how hard you worked out, and which muscles have been stretched.
Here’s a beginner stretching routine to complete after your workouts, starring my buddy Vic Magary.
What’s important is to try your best, don’t stretch beyond the point where the movements are actually painful. Slight discomfort (from stretching, duh) is what we’re aiming for.
Now, how far you stretch is up to you – You know your body best, and it’s the only one you got – so please take care of it!
The Beginner Cool Down Stretching Routine is as follows:
Reach above and fully extend your body.
Keep legs straight, bend forward and stretch for 10 seconds.
Stretch towards the left for 10 seconds, and then the right for 10 seconds.
With legs together bend forwards for 10 seconds.
Squat down and hug your knees to your chest.
Roll onto your back in the same position.
Kneel and lean back with arms extended and rock forwards stretching the lower back (repeat 3-5 times).
Sit with the bottoms of your feet together, lean forward and stretch (repeat 2 or 3 times).
Advanced Stretching Routine
Here’s a video of a more advanced stretching routine that I adapted from my fitness Yoda/friend Mike Rickett. It’s a mix of yoga, stretching, tai-chi, pilates, and awesome.
This is relatively advanced, so don’t do any of these movements that are too much of a reach (get it?!) for you.
The video explains everything, so pay attention to both the movement and number of repetitions.
Although I move quickly through the movements (sorry about that), don’t confuse my movements with bouncing – stretch as far as you can, hold it for a few seconds without bouncing, and then repeat the process:
is yOGA good FOR a post-workout stretch?
Yoga is awesome.
It can help improve flexibility, strength, and mindfulness.
Plus, if you’re looking for a stretching routine to cool down with after your training, yoga almost seems built for it. Oftentimes a yoga routine will end in corpse pose, the perfect posture after a hard training session.
Want to see a sample routine? You got it:
The above video (Water Series – A) is taken from our course, Nerd Fitness Yoga. If you like it, I’d encourage you to go browse the page and check it out.
Want more free videos and demos on yoga poses? You can click right here for “21 Yoga Poses for Beginners.”
USing a Foam roller for post-workout stretches
Do you own a foam roller?
With that, and a little floor space, you’ll have all you need for perfect post-workout stretch.
Let’s show you how to do the following:
Glutes (both sides)
Quads (one at a time)
Here’s a video demonstrating the moves, plus a T-Rex (this is Nerd Fitness after all):
Want more tips on starting a foam roller practice? Click right here for our article “How to Use A Foam Roller.”
pARTING WORDS ON STRETCHING EXERCISES
What’s that? You want even more stretching recommendations?
Depending on how you’re feeling, where you’re sore, and so on – you can throw in some additional movements:
No matter what training your doing, whether it’s with bodyweights, actual weights, or running, always make sure you take some time post-workout for some stretching exercises. You’ll do a lot to help speed up your recovery.
Alright, your turn:
Do you have any favorite post-exercise stretches?
Any difficult areas you try and troubleshoot after your training?
What do you do to help with post-workout recovery?
Let us know in the comments!
PS: With all this talk on post-workout stretching, did you forget to remember to warm up before your workout? I got you!
All photo citations can be read right here.
Footnotes ( returns to text)
Read more: nerdfitness.com