Dynamic Stretches (Warm-Up)
Dynamic stretches are active movements where joints and muscles go through a full range of motion. They are best used to prepare your body for exercise. Some examples of dynamic warm-up movements include:
» Leg swings (side to side and front to back) » Arm rotations
» Marching in place while pumping arms
» Jumping jacks
» Hip circles
» Mountain climbers
Dynamic stretches are activities which involve movement, whereas static stretches (described in the next section) are positions where muscles are extended and held for 15 to 30 seconds. Static stretches should never be used as a warm-up to exercise.
If you have access to cardio equipment, feel free to use it for warming up instead of the dynamic movements. If the cardio equipment you choose does not involve your upper body, be sure to add movements such as arm and shoulder rotations.
STATIC STRETCHES (COOLDOWN)
Our muscles are not in charge of our range of motion. They facilitate bone and joint actions, which determine range of motion. Studies have shown that by continuously performing intense stretches and pushing beyond our natural range of motion, we may be creating uneven wear and tear on the joints and ligaments, which can lead to osteoarthritis.
While we don’t want to stretch beyond what is natural for us, most people don’t hold stretches for long enough. As I previously mentioned, we want to hold static stretches for 15 to 30 seconds, but remember it isn’t supposed to hurt. Concentrating on steady breathing will help deliver more oxygen to and remove more waste products from the muscle fibers.
The following stretches are a great way to cool down after your workout and can be performed on your “off” days as well, to help maintain the range of motion that is optimal for your body.
The home workouts include bodyweight exercises, dumbbell exercises, and resistance band variations. You should have two bands of different strengths on hand prior to week 2 for the home workouts. If you would like to add more options to your workout, you will find a variety of dumbbells at most sporting goods stores. You may want to consider purchasing dumbbells in two different weights (see here for dumbbell weight guidelines). In general, you will use the lighter bands and weights for the smaller muscle groups, and you will use the heavier bands and weights for the larger muscles, such as those in your legs.
Gym workouts include dumbbells, bodyweight, gym machines, and a stability ball. Most gyms will have this equipment available for you.
Regardless of the equipment you use, proper form is imperative, so that you target the correct muscles and remain injury-free. For every exercise, use controlled motions in both phases: the lifting and lowering back down. Quick, jerky motions can lead to injury. Slow down and concentrate on what you’re doing, and on the muscles you’re targeting. Remember, it’s not supposed to be easy, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun!
To properly stretch all your quad muscles, you’ll have to not only bend your knee but stand up straight enough to feel the stretch in the front of the hip of the standing leg.
- While standing on a straight leg, hold on to a countertop or chair back to assist in balance.
- Bend your other knee back by grasping your ankle with one hand.
- Assist in bending your knee back as far as possible, gently pressing your foot toward your glutes. If this causes stress on your knees, be very gentle.
- Push the hips forward to engage slightly so that you engage the hip flexors (the front of your hips, where your legs meet your torso). Hold for 15 to 30 seconds (don’t forget to breathe).
- Return to a standing position. Repeat with the opposite leg.
- Repeat two to three times on both sides.
Safety Tip: Be mindful of not pulling too hard if you’re experiencing knee pain. If so, gently press only until you feel a slight pull in the quadriceps.
It is especially important to give the hamstrings a good stretch prior to exercise. Tight hamstrings may be more prone to strain or tearing.
- Avoid throwing the leg up onto a high elevation.
- Gently place your heel onto a chair-height surface, keeping both legs straight.
- Your spine should be kept as straight as possible while bending forward at the hips.
- Bring the torso toward your leg, without curving your spine. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. (Don’t forget to breathe.)
- Repeat with the opposite leg.
- Feel free to repeat two to three times.
Safety Tip: Be careful not to curve your spine toward the extended leg.
INNER THIGH STRETCH
This stretch protects the hips by helping maintain and improve outward rotation in the hips.
- Sit with your feet together, hips turned out, knees bent, back straight, chin level.
- Bring your feet in as close to your body as you can while allowing the knees to splay out comfortably.
- Keeping your back straight, gently lean forward from the hips until you feel a slight stretching sensation along the inner thighs.
- Rest your elbows on your knees to hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds. Breathe.
- Relax completely before repeating the steps two to three times.
Safety Tip: Do not bounce your legs. Simply press gently and hold.
These muscles play a major role in walking and running, and any level of tightness can lead to pain and imbalance in other areas of your body. It’s particularly important to stretch your calf muscles if you wear high heels often or if you sit at a desk for long periods of time.
- Begin by standing two to three feet away from a wall, depending on your height.
- Place one foot in front of your body as you lean toward the wall.
- Rest your hands up against the wall at about chest height. Keep your heels, hips, and head in a straight line and your feet flat on the floor.
- Lean forward while pressing your rear heel into the floor, until you feel a stretch in your calves. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. (Don’t forget to breathe.)
- To stretch the soleus, come away from the wall, standing more upright.
- Gently bend the back leg until you feel the stretch lower down toward your heel. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
Safety Tip: Avoid this stretch if you are experiencing Achilles tendon issues.
The latissimus dorsi are the large, broad muscles located on each side of your upper and mid back.
- Find a ledge that is approximately chest height, such as a fireplace mantle, or simply place your hands on a wall at the same height.
- Place your hands shoulder-width apart. Without moving your arms, slowly bend forward at your hips. Allow your head to drop toward your chest.
- Stop when you feel a stretch along the sides of your upper and mid back. (Don’t forget to breathe.) Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, and then relax.
- Repeat two to three times.
Safety Tip: Avoid this stretch if you have pain in your shoulders.
One of the most important muscle groups to stretch is the pectoralis muscles, more commonly known as the chest muscles.
- Stand at the right angle of two walls or in a doorway.
- Place your left arm at 90 degrees onto the doorjamb or edge of the wall. Gently rotate your body away from that arm, away from the working side.
- You may have to shift your feet slightly, to point away from working side. Also, you may need to rotate the non-working shoulder back a little in order to feel the stretch. (You should feel the stretch in the front of the working- side armpit.)
- Hold for 15 to 30 seconds on each side. (Don’t forget to breathe.)
Safety Tip: Use caution as you rotate your torso away from the contact point.
LOWER BACK STRETCH
The quadratus lumborum is the deepest abdominal muscle and is located in your lower back, on either side of the lumbar spine.
- From a standing position, place one hand on your hip and raise the other arm over your head.
- Bend to the side, extending your raised arm and reaching over toward the opposite side. (You can adjust where the stretch hits by reaching slightly in front of your body.)
- Tuck in your chin and gaze down toward the floor. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. (Don’t forget to breathe.)
- Repeat on the other side.
- To deepen the stretch, hold one wrist with your opposite hand as you stretch, or cross one leg in front of the other.
Safety Tip: Be mindful of not leaning back. Stay neutral or lean slightly forward.
DEEP HIP STRETCH
If the piriformis pushes against the sciatic nerve (often caused by too much sitting), it can cause excruciating pain.
- Lie on your back, bend both knees, and bring your left ankle over your right thigh.
- Lift your right foot off the ground, bringing your leg up to a 90-degree angle.
- Loop your hands in between your legs and slowly draw your right knee in toward your chest.
- Keep your head and neck relaxed on the ground, holding for 15 to 30 seconds. (Don’t forget to breathe.)
- Repeat on the other side.
- You can also do this stretch in a seated position by placing your ankle on the opposite knee and leaning forward until you feel that stretch deep in the back of your hip.
Safety Tip: If you’re doing the seated version, be careful not to curve your spine forward. Keep your back flat as you lean forward.
Do You Have to Take Supplements with Static Stretching?
Stretching doesn’t burn many calories. If you want to burn the most calories, consider higher intensity activities like jogging, interval training, or even walking. However, stretching does burn a few extra calories.
- When a 125-pound person performs a 30-minute stretching routine (or when they sit quietly for 30 minutes), they burn about 70 calories.
- When a 150-pound person performs a 30-minute stretching routine, they burn about 85 calories (34 calories when sitting).
- A 200-pound person burns about 113 calories during a 30-minute stretching routine (45 calories while sitting).
If you want to get a little extra help to burn calories, you might consider trying natural weight loss supplements. When combined with a healthy diet, it will further increase the loss of excess body fat – and may also have other beneficial effects.
Resurge is of the most popular weight loss supplements that promise to help you shed pounds and sleep better. Because studies have shown that sleep deprivation is associated with deficiencies of growth hormone and elevated levels of cortisol, both of which contribute to obesity.
While other supplements promote nutritional factors, meal replacement forms, appetite suppression, or similar effects, Resurge boosts your body’s metabolism by increasing your core temperature. However, before making any purchases, you might want to read some Resurge reviews because the supplement industry is rife with scams.
Besides, it should be noted that supplements are ineffective on their own and are hardly a solution to obesity. Pills or supplements only work when combined with a healthy weight-loss diet and regular exercise.
In any case, it’s always best to talk with your doctor before you start taking a supplement, especially if you are taking medications or have any health concerns.