Aches, pains, and stiffness, not uncommon, especially as we get a little older. We all know stretching can improve range of motion, boost energy and increase blood flow as it reduces achy joints and helps us relax. So the question is, why aren’t we doing more of it?  For some reason, for many people, it seems like an afterthought. They will do a 60-minute hard workout and maybe spend two minutes doing a half-hearted stretch.

Whether it is after a sports activity, following a workout, or as part of a bedtime or morning routine,  it is crucial to carve out some time to stretch, but it doesn’t have to be a big chunk of your day. As little as ten to fifteen minutes every day you could make a big difference. If you are doing a stretch before or after a certain workout or sport, most of your stretches should focus on the muscle groups you will be using. And it is recommended that we do dynamic stretching with some slight movement before a workout and static stretching after a workout.  Here are two basic types of stretches and when you should do them along with a video guide to basic beginner stretches

  • PIKSEL/Getty Stock/ThinkStock
    1

    Static Stretching

    Static stretches involve holding a specific position for a period of time. These can help your body cool down, especially after a workout, as they really focus on lengthening your muscles. 

  • Andrejs Pidjass/Getty Stock/ThinkStock
    2

    Dynamic Stretching

    Dynamic stretches work to put your joints and muscles through a full range of motion. They are often used to warm up before an activity. 

    Dynamic stretches often mimic the movement of the activity or sport you’re about to perform. For example, a swimmer may circle their arms before getting into the water. These movements are also a great way to prepare your body before using weights in a strength training program.

    Dynamic stretches can also be a series of movements to get the body moving before any type of exercise. Some examples include trunk twists, walking lunges, or leg swings against a wall.

  • Ridofranz/Getty Stock/ThinkStock
    3

    Benefits of Stretching Every Day

    While it is great to stretch right before your workout, the most benefits for your body will come from stretching every day. If it has been months or even years since you last stretched you want to start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time you stretch.  Doing it with a group or with a friend could be all the motivation you need to turn stretching into a daily activity.