Stretching Vs. Warming Up | What are the Key Differences?
We are living in the wellness generation. We have never been more aware of the benefits of moving our body with regularity. Physical health is defined by exercise, proper nutrition, and a decent sleep schedule. With physical movement becoming an everyday task for many, it’s essential to define the many terms that are used by this widening community. Stretching and warming up are usually used to reference the same thing – but the two are fundamentally different. Not only do they serve different purposes – they have far different goals and executions. In this article, we’ll define the difference between the two and give you a brief introduction to both.
StretchingStretching is the practice of stretching your muscles and joints, and it’s usually done before a workout, but some people prefer to do it both before and after. Stretching is highly beneficial for numerous reasons, the most important of which is preventing injuries.
A. GoalsThe primary goals of stretching are:
- Elongating and loosening muscle fibres
- Aiding flexibility in muscles and joints
- Decreasing dormant onset muscle soreness
- Preventing possible injury such as muscle torsion
- Improving body posture during workouts
- Improved blood flow and circulation
B. When Should You Do It?The science is a bit murky on when you should stretch your muscles. While stretching warmed up muscles is generally considered safer than stretching cold muscles, some people choose to do it before they warm up. Others prefer to do it before and after a warmup. That depends on the stretching you’re using – the two primary types of stretching are static and dynamic. Static stretching entails stretching a muscle and holding it in a stretched position for a predetermined amount of time, while dynamic stretching includes motion while you’re stretching. That’s why there are so many stretching exercises out there. In general, it’s safer and more beneficial to stretch after a warmup as opposed to before one.
C. What Are the Basic Exercises?Since stretching includes both static and dynamic options, the amount of basic exercises is massive. Some of the most common stretching exercises are:
- Hamstring stretching
- Quadriceps and hip flexor stretch
- Calf stretching
- Shoulder stretching
- Trapezius stretching
- Triceps stretching
- Lower and upper back stretching
Warming UpWarming up is far different than stretching. It’s a notion of warming up the muscles and is usually done before stretching. It serves an integral role in any physical activity, as it prepares the body for any aerobic and anaerobic training.
A. GoalsThe primary goals of warming up are:
- Improving circulation and blood flow
- Elevating muscle and core temperature
- Preparing the body for activity
- Lessening the stress on tendons and joints
- Dispersing the stress evenly
- Improving performance and reducing the chance of injury