This is Part 1 of a 5-part blog about proper stretching!
Stretching is key to keeping your muscles functional and optimal! I am guilty of sometimes leaving it out or rushing through it as well but it makes all the difference in the world after a workout and affects how you feel later that day or the next. There has been back and forth research on stretching before and/or after workouts and I will say that for me personally, static stretching (holding the stretch) isn’t beneficial for me beforehand and I don’t do it. Dynamic stretching (large muscle movements, think leg swings and arm swings, etc.) are great to add as a part of your warm-up before an athletic workout.
We often stretch those muscles that we find to be sore and focus on what we may think is tight rather than utilizing stretching as a preventative exercise. You should stretch all muscle groups worked regardless of whether you feel it is tighter than another muscle group.
Below, I have posted a simple at-home lower body stretching protocol that is generic and can be used by most populations. Hold each stretch 20-30 seconds to the point of mild tension, not pain!
Stay posted for the Static Upper Body Stretching, Low Back and Trunk stretching, and advanced stretching protocol utilizing foam rollers and other toys as well as a dynamic stretching protocol/warm-up!