Prevailing wisdom suggests that stretching, both static and dynamic, is incredibly beneficial for our overall wellness. A stretching routine for beginners is just what many of us need to take that first step to a better, healthier you!
But, there’s a lot of misconception surrounding the topic, and most folks don’t know how to go about stretching in the most optimal (and safest) way.
To that end, we’ve put together this quick post, explaining everything you need to know about stretching basics. In the end, we’ve also shared a stretching routine for beginners.
Dynamic vs. Static Stretching – The Basics You Need to Know
Here are the basics of the two primary methods of stretching your body and your muscles:
- Dynamic stretching is done pre-workout, to warm and prepare your muscles for more intensity. It is done by moving your muscles and joints through their full ranges of motion to stretch and shorten the tissues numerous times. It’s a simple, flowing motion where your body is kept in motion. The key is a smooth and constant motion, with no jerking or tension.
- Static stretching is only done post-workout, when your muscles are fully warmed up. It is done by elongating a muscle and keeping it in a static position for a predetermined amount of time – for example, 15, 30, 45, or 60 seconds. Stretch to a point of slight discomfort, but stopping short of pain.
While they may seem like they are the same thing, both modalities offer unique advantages. You’ll get a clear understanding of what that means in the stretching routine for beginners below.
Why Consistently Stretching for Beginners Is Incredibly Beneficial
Many people shrug stretching off because they don’t see the incredible benefits it offers. Big mistake. Here are three solid reasons why you should be stretching consistently:
1. Increases Your Range of Motion
Stretching, both static and dynamic, is well-known for its positive effects on our flexibility and mobility. Stretching consistently will increase the range of motion around your joints and improve your athletic capacity. It keeps your muscles supple and loose.
2. Decreases Your Risk of Injury
Thanks to the increased range of motion and lengthening of our muscles, regular stretching also decreases the risk of injury, especially when it comes to explosive and physically-demanding activities and exercises.
As you get older, stretching really becomes a must. Stretching keeps your muscles young and lively! And it is the primary key to avoiding workout injuries, especially as you reach middle age and beyond.
3. Dynamic Stretching is Ideal for Pre-Workout Warmup
Dynamic stretching helps mobilize our joints and warm our bodies up for the workout. This not only boosts our workout performance but also decreases the risk of injury.
Again, as you get older, it becomes imperative to spend time doing dynamic stretching before your workouts. This time is an investment that will save you much aggravation resulting from injuries.
4. Static Stretching is Ideal for Cool Down
Static stretching is commonly used as a cool down technique, and for good reasons:
It’s an incredibly effective way to wind down after a workout and improve your mobility. This is the stretching that will increase your range of motion. But only perform static stretches when your muscles are fully warmed up, or you risk injury.
Stretching Routine For Beginners: Static and Dynamic
Here’s a dynamic stretching routine for beginners that’s excellent for warming up (pre-workout):
- Hopping / Jogging in pace – 60 seconds
- High knees – 30 seconds
- Back to front leg swings – 5 reps per leg
- Side to side leg swings – 5 reps per leg
- Arm rotations – 10 reps per arm (5 forward circles, 5 backward)
- Neck rolls – 3 full rotations in each direction
- Thoracic extensions – 5 reps per arm
- Side to side lunges – 5 reps per leg
And here’s a static stretching routine for beginners that can cool down to cool yourself down after a workout:
- Thoracic (upper back) stretch – 10 seconds
- Seated hamstring stretch – 20 to 30 seconds per leg
- Forward lunge hip stretch – 20 to 30 seconds per side
- Quad stretch – 20 to 30 seconds per side
- Adductor stretch (side lunge) – 20 to 30 seconds per side
- Standing chest stretch – 10 seconds
- Shoulder stretch – 10 seconds per shoulder
- Bicep stretch – 10 seconds per arm
- Tricep stretch – 10 seconds per arm
One Common Stretching Mistake to Avoid
Before starting any stretching routine for beginners, remember one very important thing that can save you untold headaches and frustration:
Never stretch cold muscles. Always start with a light warm-up to get your blood flowing and muscles warm before doing any kind of stretching. It is critical to get your blood flowing and your muscles warm prior to any type of stretching, dynamic or static. (1)
Examples of these warm-up exercises include:
- Jogging in place
- Simple hopping up and down
- Jumping Jacks
- Walking on a treadmill
These simple motions will get your blood flowing, and your muscles warmed up and ready for more intensity. As you age, it’s especially important to do proper warm-up. As you get older, you’ll become increasingly susceptible to muscle and joint injuries.
Proper warm-up and stretching will help you to avoid these problems.
Click for more detailed stretching routines for each body part.
1) Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, February 12). Stretching is not a warm up! find out why. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/stretching/art-20047931