Your warm up is over; you performed your stretches, and finished a killer workout. But, before you give yourself a big pat on the back, there is still one final step to be done-static stretches. Static stretches are ideal for post workouts, otherwise known as the cool down. You would never want to perform static stretches on cold muscles. The purpose of a cool down is to help your body achieve relaxation and return to a steady state of rest. Static stretching happens to do just that.
But, what exactly is it? Simply put, static stretching is “a stretch that is held in a challenging but comfortable position for a period of time, usually somewhere between 10 to 30 seconds,” says Jay Blahnik, author of Full-Body Flexibility. Some of the major benefits of static stretches are induced muscle relaxation and decreased muscle tension. It requires little energy and can help prevent delayed onset muscle soreness.
Personal trainer Christine Laurent suggests that in order to get the most out of static stretches you want to extend past your normal range of motion. Static stretches should be performed slowly while taking deep breaths, think of it as your relaxation time. You should feel slight tension as you stretch your muscles, but never to a painful extent. These stretches should be repeated between three to five times. Make sure to work all your major muscle groups and especially focus on the muscles that are regularly used throughout your day. Now, that you’ve completed the warm up, work out, and cool down, it is time to give yourself that big pat on the back!