This week's question
What type of stretching should I do before exercising?
My answer - For MOST people doing MOST exercise, they should do more of a "warm up" rather than a "stretch" before exercising. While this may seem like a matter of somantics, there really is a big difference. For most types of workouts that you may do, you want to prepare you're body to move through the range of motion it will need to do during the exercise, and make sure that your muscles are prepared to expand and contract to allow that to happen.
If the activity you are about to take place in is fast-paced, your warm-up should also allow for some faced paced contractions. The research now tells us that traditional "stretching" where we hold a position for 30+ seconds like we did in middle school gym class is not very effective in preparing us for activity and may even decrease performance.
Static stretching is out, active warm-up is in. This means we are going to move in an out of positions, ideally in a progressive manner to get ready for the activity we are going to participate in. Now, if your activity requires less range of motion for example walking , that warm up can include less range of motion. If your activity requires a lot of range of motion for example gymnastics, that warm up should include those ranges of motion as well.
I have included a video here of a general "dynamic warm up" that can be adopted to your needs for your activity.
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