Despite what we were told by our grade school gym teachers, stretching prior to workouts can be ineffective and even detrimental. Studies now show that low-level plyometrics (high knees, butt kicks, squats, squat jumps, jumping jacks, jump roping) are preferred to static stretches for workout preparation. These moving stretches help to activate the muscles that will be used in the upcoming exercises. Stretching, on the other hand, can cause the muscles to contract, which can cause injury. But remember, while pre-workout stretching can be detrimental, stretching post-workout is still beneficial.
Below are 10 stretches to never do before a workout with replacement active motions that will increase your stamina, endurance, and power during a workout. These have been adapted from The Active Times.
Don’t Do This / Do That
Don’t Do This: Quad Stretch / Do This: Butt Kicks
Jogging in place, kick your heels back to your butt as quickly as possible. Maintain a strong, tall posture throughout. Butt kicks intensely work your hamstrings and, in the process, stretch your quads.
Don’t Do This: Butterfly Stretch / Do This: Dynamic Groin Stretch
Start with feet hip distance apart and get into squat position. Bound directly sideways to your left with a soft landing. Alternate from side to side.
Don’t Do This: Standing Hamstring Stretch / Do This: Leg Hugger
As you’re walking forward, pick up one leg and bring your knee to your chest, fully bending the leg and hugging it with your arms. Slowly bring the leg back to the ground as you step forward and alternate hugging the other leg. This opens up the hip flexors, stimulates blood flow to the lower back, and activates your leg muscles for exercising.
Don’t Do This: Hip Flexor Stretch / Do This: Walking Lunge
Take an exaggerated step forward with your left leg, slowly lowering your body by bending both knees. Lower hips toward the floor and bend both knees (almost at 90 degree angles). The back knee should come close but never touch the ground. Your front knee should be directly over the ankle and the back knee should be pointing down toward the floor. Push off with your right foot and bring it forward to starting position. This completes one rep.
Don’t Do This: Knee to Chest Stretch / Do This: High Knees
While jogging in place, bring the knees up as high as they will go. Speed is key to activating the muscles. Maintain good form with a straight back and engaged core.
Don’t Do This: Seated Twist / Do This: Spiderman Dynamic Stetch
Get in push-up position, but keep your legs shoulder width apart. Place your left foot on the outside of your left hand, slightly bending your right leg to make the stretch. Drive the hips forward and switch sides. This is essentially a crawling motion (see below).
Don’t Do This: Step Drop Stretch / Do This: High Skips
Skip forward, emphasizing vertical movement. Drive your right leg up and your left arm forward, then switch sides in one fluid movement, landing softly and pushing off your toes.
Don’t Do This: Pike Stretch / Do This: Alternating Toe Touches
Standing with your feet wider than your shoulders, bring your arms up and extend them sideways. Bend forward and rotate slightly to your right as you bring your left arm down to touch your right toe. Come back up and alternate sides for 15 to 30 seconds.