Stretching is essential for muscle health. Even so, it’s a practice that’s often forgotten — or outright ignored — in fitness regimens.
Before embarking on your next run or studio session, it’s important to know which stretches do what and when to utilize them.
Dynamic stretches are best pre-workout because they “loosen up the joints, tendons and ligaments through motion,” says Jim Loperfido, owner of CrossFit Solace.
These warm-up stretches are crucial to athletic performance, he says. “A dynamic warm-up routine turns on the muscles to be used in the succeeding workout, instead of shutting them off.”
Loperfido recommends static stretching after workouts “when our muscles tend to be warmer, more lubricated and easier to manipulate without tearing the tissue,” he says. “Creating length in soft tissue allows us to achieve better joint mobility and range.”
To get the most out of a series of stretches, it’s best to tailor them to a specific sport or need, which varies per person. Regardless, it’s a practice people of all fitness levels should do.
“The more we move into these positions, which our otherwise sedentary lifestyles may prevent, the more our joints and tissues become lubricated and free,” Loperfido says.
In addition to improving flexibility, coordination and balance, lengthening tight muscles can help correct posture. Stress can also be reduced when tension is released from stiff muscles.
“Static stretching, and holding for at least 2 minutes per movement, is a great prescription to alleviate the residual tension post-workout, but can also be used to relax,” Loperfido says.
Stretch it out
To increase flexibility and coordination, try these stretching-specific classes.
Inspired by the world of dance, Lastics’ hour-long classes focus on elongating muscles to help heal injuries, alleviate pain and increase body awareness and control. The sessions, which are offered in various studios as well as online, vary by level, with hip-opening advanced classes that are good for dancers, gymnasts and martial artists. $25; multiple locations, 646-736-7880, lastics.com
Deep Stretch & Renew at Uplift Studios
Once a month, the all-female fitness boutique offers this hour-long class, developed by instructor Andi Schpok to target soreness and tightness by increasing circulation to certain muscle groups without overworking them. Take it on your rest day. $34, next offered May 15 at 5:30 p.m.; 24 W. 23rd St., second floor, 212-242-3103, upliftstudios.com
Mobility at CrossFit Solace
Take this hour-long session to improve and maintain joint, connective tissue and muscle health, while also increasing flexibility and enhancing range of motion. The class is led at least twice a week, oftentimes by a trainer who’s a physical therapist, and each one is tailored to the needs of participants. $29; 38 E. 32nd St., 212-684-2689, crossfitsolace.com