Sammy Cusimano is the founder of Genesys Training based out of New Orleans, Louisiana, and has been a professional trainer since 2001. His experience with training clients ranges from competitive athletes to senior citizens. Cusimano’s goal as a trainer is to help clients safely reach their fitness potential and become the best version of themselves for overall health and wellness.
Fitness is just like life: the more flexible you are, the more you will enjoy it.
Stretching is important in every exercise regimen, but it’s often pushed to the side and ignored. It’s so easy after a hard workout with weights and cardio to just brush off stretching.
After a workout, endorphins are pumping and you may not feel like you need to stretch. This is when you need to stretch the most: before you feel like you need it.
There are two types of stretching that you can do by yourself. Each has a very specific purpose and is most effective when done at the right time during your workout.
The first is dynamic stretching. This type is typically done as a warm-up before you start your workout. In dynamic stretching the key element is motion.
Because the muscles are moved through their range of motion repeatedly, dynamic stretching helps to loosen the muscles while also improving balance, coordination, and body awareness.
Dynamic stretching is similar to regular isotonic exercise in that you perform a range of motion of the muscles for a set of repetitions.
Dynamic stretching is not be confused with ballistic stretching, which is notable for its “bouncing.” The movement in dynamic stretching is smooth and controlled, not bouncing.
Ballistic stretching can over extend the range of flexibility a muscle is capable of and possibly lead to an injury. In contrast to ballistic stretching, dynamic stretching is safe when performed properly because control is an integral part of each movement.
While dynamic stretching is ideal as a warm-up to get the blood flowing through the muscles and increasing flexibility, static stretching is a great cool-down for the end of a workout routine.
Static stretching is the most common type. Holding a toe touch is an example of a static stretch. The purpose of a static stretch is to elongate a muscle in a lengthened position for a period of time.
For muscles that have been repeatedly contracted during an intense weights workout, static stretching helps to pull the muscles into a lengthened position to avoid injury and overall discomfort.
Static stretches can also be performed in between sets of exercise to keep the muscles loose. When a muscle is flexible it can move more freely which leads to better performance during a workout.
Both dynamic and static stretches are extremely important in every workout routine. Stretching is what keeps the body in balance.
Yoga has been beneficial in helping fitness-minded individuals understand the importance of flexibility and breathing as a huge part of fitness and health.
Breathing during any stretch is what will help to relieve tension. By nature stretching is a rhythm of tension and rest. During any tension a solid rhythm of inhaling and exhaling will keep the body in the proper balance.
Do NOT hold your breath during a stretch. Your body needs oxygen so be sure to stay focused on your breathing.
By warming up with an energetic dynamic stretching routine and cooling down with a relaxing static stretching routine, you will get the most out of your workouts, stay injury-free, and enjoy your time exercising more than ever.
Don’t forget to start and end every workout with stretching!