A common mistake people make is to stretch to warm-up for physical activity. Stretching should take place at some point AFTER warming-up. Stretching does not warm-up muscles or joints in preparation for activity. In fact one should not do deep stretches without warming-up first. This is true for yoga postures practice as well as running, playing a sport or other physical activity.
3 Tips for When to Stretch
We all need to stretch to keep fit. Even animals need to stretch. Think of cats – the masters of stretch. The best time to stretch has been a matter of controversy over the years. It need not be, if you keep these 3 simple tips in mind.
- Stretching and warming-up are not the same. Warming-up the body implies getting the blood flowing in your muscles and stimulating the synovial fluid in your joints. Movement makes these actions occur; not static stretching.
- Sometime after warming-up is the best time for deep stretching. You can warm-up to stretch. Or you can warm-up, workout and then stretch. Safe yoga routines may start with a centering exercise but before moving on to the main posture sequence there will be warm-ups like Double Breathing, Cat-Cow or other simple movements or postures.
- Simple movements can serve to warm-up the body and increase range of motion before deep stretching. Like those found in The 2 Minute Yoga Solution, which are safe to practice on their own, or as a warm-up to a more intense practice. These are examples of light stretching, gentle moving, breathing and centering.
The above tips will help you get the most out of your stretching time.
Double Breathing explained:
Video streaming by Ustream
Cat-Cow Chair version and other simple yoga moves for warm-ups or for a work-break: