Forget everything you knew about stretching.

Sure, flexibility is important for injury prevention and building strength.  But think about traditional forms of stretching.  Standing or sitting for 30 seconds at a time while holding a stretch cools your body down when you really should be getting your body temperature up to meet the demands of the workout.  Also, “static” stretching has actually shown to decrease strength and power production by activating receptors that will tell the muscle to “shut down” so you can stretch it further.

Instead, try dynamic stretching.  Dynamic stretching involves actively taking your joints through their full range of motion, moving in a quick but controlled pattern.  By doing a dynamic stretch, you are taking care of two major necessities: warming the muscles you will be using in the workout, and moving your joints as they are intended to be used in your workout.  Your body will feel more adequately prepared for any physical activity you should engage in.  Dynamic stretches require good technique and focus, so come see either myself or head trainer Jason Kamens to get a free introduction to a dynamic stretching routine!

— Josh Wludyga MS, CSCS