Is Stretching a Warm Up?

Stretching is a warm up.

True or False

Stretching is not warming up! But, it is an important part of warming up. Warming up is exactly how it sounds, raising our body temperature (which stretching does not do). The National Sports Medicine Institute states, “ A warm-up is a session which takes place prior to doing physical activity, the warm-up should gently prepare the body for exercises by gradually increasing the heart rate and circulation; this will loosen the joints and increase blood flow to the muscles.”

Warm Up: Joint Rotation & Aerobic Activity

The general warm up must be performed before you begin to stretch. This is because stretching with cold muscles can cause injury and when the muscle temperature is increased, the stretching will be more effective. The general warm up should be split into two parts. Joint rotation and aerobic activity, says Tom Kurz, author of Stretching Scientifically

Joint rotations are simple. Begin starting either from your toes and working your way up, or from your fingers and working your way down. Perform slow circular movements, both clockwise and counter-clockwise, until the joint seems to move smoothly, says Kurz. Then continue on to the second part of your warm up, the aerobic activity. The aerobic activity should be about five to ten minutes long. A light jog, brisk walk, jumping jacks, jumping rope, or high-knees, and lunges are just a few examples of the type of aerobic activity that you could be doing.


Time to Stretch

Now that the warm up is complete, it is time to stretch. What many people don’t know is that there are different types of stretches. The stretches that involve motion are called dynamic and the ones that don’t are called static. Exercise physiologist Len Kravitz recommends that you perform dynamic stretching before your workout and static stretching afterward. But what are the difference and benefits of each? If you want to find out more, keep an eye out for our next upcoming post.