As 2020 starts, most people think about fitness or weight loss resolutions.  You may be ready to recommit to whatever you were doing before you were so busy preparing for the holidays or starting a new exercise program.  Have you heard how important it is to warm up your muscles to prevent injuries?  Most people have heard it is important to stretch but are not sure how or why to do it.

First, there are two different types of stretching and each one is appropriate for different times during your workout. They are dynamic and static stretching.  With dynamic stretching, we want to keep moving throughout the stretching.  We are not going to hold one position for too long.  We can think of dynamic stretching as your warm-up. You are warming up the body, getting the muscles, ligaments and soft tissues ready to work out and mobilizing your joints.  We are preparing the body for a wide range of motion.  Dynamic stretching promotes fluid movement during athletic performance, decreases soreness and minimizes injury. This type of stretching improves speed, agility, and acceleration. Examples of dynamic stretching include walking while pulling your knees up high, slowly swing your leg forward and back or slow lunges while twisting the upper body.  Your goal is to do some of the movements slowly that you will do faster or with bursts of speed during your workout.

Static stretching is more to cool down where you will move the muscle to the end of its range of motion and hold it without pain for  20 to 45 seconds.  You want to stretch the muscle causing a little bit of stress which is great to do at the end of a workout when your body is already warm.  If you do static stretching at the beginning of a workout, you limit the muscles’ effectiveness to do gross amounts of force when you need it to at the peak of your workout. Static stretching may limit your body’s ability to react quickly when you need to jump, for short sprints and for quick reaction time.  If you use static stretching at the start of your workout, you may negatively impact your performance.  Using static stretching as a maintenance stretching program will also help reduce your risk of injury.  Types of static stretching would be to extend your leg, flex your foot and hold to stretch your hamstrings.  You could bring your foot up behind you and hold it with your hand to stretch the quadriceps.  For the upper body, extend your arm across your body and place your other hand on the outside of your arm to hold the stretch.

Our muscles need to be both strong and flexible so you need both types of stretching so we can optimize our body for whatever type of workout you are doing.  Know when and how to stretch and make it a part of your daily routine.  Happy Exercising!

Lutz Jazzercise offers dynamic and static stretching in every class.  New students can get started for free.  Class times and formats available at https://www.jazzercise.com/location/jazzercise-tampa-lutz-fitness-center.  Look for our special offer in this issue or call 813-743-9493.