It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional sprinter or a casual jogger, if you want to get the most out of your exercise and not injure yourself, you need to warm up. Part of that is light exercise before getting up to full speed, but it also means doing some stretches, which have a few different benefits to them.
Even though a lot of people don’t stretch before they workout because they assume they don’t really need too, it is just as important to lift before weight lifting as it is to lift before cardio exercises. And people who do cardio exercises generally assume that they do not need to focus on any upper body muscle groups, and only the lower body. But especially for certain cardio activities, that can be patently false. Even for running, there is movement of your arms, and even muscles you don’t use during your exercise still help get your heart rate up and gets your blood pumping. Point being, don’t think that certain exercises are immune from needing stretches beforehand. And everyone will perform better after doing proper warm-ups, which is why we’re getting into specific stretches as well after we go over the basics.
Light Muscle Exercise
There are a few different lower body exercises for each different muscle group that you can do to help. It is best to do a couple for each muscle group, because even if two stretches target the same main muscle, the supporting muscles that each target are likely to be different. For example, if you are looking to stretch your thighs, one muscle might target the thighs, calves and glutes to some extent, while another might get the calves as well, but work the hips as well because of the need to balance during it. It also ensures one area is not overextended, because each muscle relies on supporting muscles to make it work properly. If you hurt your supporting muscles and have to use improper form to avoid pain, your muscles will develop poorly, or you can begin to experience long term issues related to the injury.
Prep Your Legs
Some basic workouts for your calves can also help stretch out your shins, which is a common problem spot, while others will workout your legs. Some of these will only require a flat surface, while other workouts would require a ledge or something sturdy to stand on. One of the most basic stances is the forward bend, where you extend your left foot forward and bend to form a 45 to 60 degree angle, while you extend your right foot backwards while planting it firmly on the ground. This will stretch your thighs and your glutes slightly, while, if done properly, also really stretching out your calves on your back foot. Make sure both of your feet are facing straightforward.
Following these tips can help you avoid any major damage to your body and can help you have a better, more efficient workout session. By allowing yourself time and preparation before a workout, your body is able to more easily able to cope with a strenuous workout.