Happy Fitness Friday! Today I’m going to talk a little bit about stretching since it’s come up in one of my challenge groups this month (we’re doing fitness related topics this week, next week is nutrition).
But first…a look at the week in fitness. I’ve been feeling the “blehs” of several rainy/cloudy days which has taken a toll on my energy levels. This, coupled with the fact that I’m pretty sure the second trimester is giving me a slow fade…It’s harder for me to motivate to get up out of bed and during the day all I want to do is sleep, plus I’m moving back and forth pretty hard between nausea and extreme hunger (there is no in between). As a result I took it easy this week and gave myself permission to “mope around” a bit rather than try and do something intense.
Wednesday after work the skies looked clear for a bit, so I planned to go on a hike. When I got started, as I moved further up the trail the rocks were still damp and slippery. This wouldn’t have been a huge deal going up but coming down…there was no way I wouldn’t fall. Bailing on the whole hike idea, I decided to walk around some of the carriage roads and footpaths nearby which was more relaxing and I got to do some exploring, so it was still a win 🙂 The whole carrying a baby around is definitely helping me think through some of my more whimsical ideas.
I also saw this article from Women’s Running go by yesterday and felt compelled to share. We don’t have a Starbucks nearby, so I missed the whole Unicorn Frappuccino craze. This looks like a smoothie I could get behind, though:
Monday: Plyo Fix Extreme, Power Chisel (30 minutes weights)
Tuesday: Upper Fix Extreme, 15 minute walk outside, 35 minute swim
Wednesday: Active Maternity 2T (weights + light cardio), 30 minute elliptical, 4 mile walk
Thursday: 45 minute swim, 10 minute stretching, Lower Fix Extreme
Friday: Cardio Fix Extreme,
So one thing that I used to be good about doing (but not so much anymore) is stretching. The only reason I used to be so good about it was only because I did organized sports in high school and coaches kind of forced us to do that sort of thing 🙂
Before running, and especially on speedwork days when I was trying to delay actually starting the running part of the workout. On heavier mileage days I always made sure to put some time in for stretching beforehand and afterwards. 2-3 times a week I made sure to do some yoga that targeted certain areas (like hips when having ITB issues, etc). All of these things contributed to keeping me healthy and injury free for so long! (My knee injury that sidelined me was not an overuse injury, which makes me feel better in knowing that I wasn’t doing anything ‘wrong’ but worse in knowing that this means I am just incredibly clumsy).
Dynamic stretches are those that involve moving and stretching simultaneously, as opposed to the “traditional” static stretches like “cross your legs and touch your toes.” While some argue that one version of stretching is better than the others, the truth is both types of stretches have benefits.
From my own experience, combined with what I’ve read/heard from other people’s experiences, dynamic stretches work best when performed before working out, especially if you’re going to be doing bursts of speed. The movement involved in these stretches helps get your core temperature warmed up, getting your blood pumping, and of course, getting your joints and muscles ready for action (source). Because you’re moving around, this exercise is a bit more fluid and preps your body for lots of movement in the workout ahead.
Static stretching doesn’t have the same benefits of priming the body for movement, BUT may be more beneficial if you do them as part of a cooldown. In fact, almost all of the Beachbody on Demand programs that I’ve done have used the pattern of dynamic stretches/warmups and static cooldowns. Personally, I enjoy this formula for a few different reasons. One, it gears me up or winds me down for whatever is next. Dynamic stretches involve moving, so my mental focus starts shifting from a state of rest to “Okay, let’s do this.” Static cool downs allow the heart rate to come down a bit and since you aren’t moving, it shifts my focus from “go go GO!” to “I’m ready to chill out for a bit.”
I’m not sure where foam rolling falls in the stretching spectrum, but it’s also one of my favorite post-run activities.
Other stretching resources to check out:
Do you stretch before/after working out?
Do you have a favorite stretch? (I’m a fan of side lunges)
How was your week workout-wise?