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How long should my stretching routine last pre-workout?

Wendy Batts
Fitness
There is no magic number when it comes to how long a pre-workout stretching routine should last. In general, however you’ll be doing two to three static stretches as a part of your warm up. If you perform three stretches and hold for 20-30 seconds each, that’ll be about a minute and a half. If you include the self-myofascial release flexibility technique (usually done on a foam roller) for an additional three body parts, this can add 90-180 seconds as well. So, plan on about five minutes for some flexibility work prior to your workout.
Eric Beard
Sports Medicine

On average I have my clients perform 15 minutes worth of flexibility before they perform a strength training or cardio routine. It depends mostly on two things; 1) how many tight muscles do they have that need to be addressed 2) how much time do they have to work out.  I encourage my clients to practice flexibility techniques daily at home. This can save them time in the gym and have a better cumulative effect than only stretching before their more comprehensive exercise routines.  Almost all of my clients use a foam roll or practice some sort of myofascial release (self massage) in addition to other types of stretching. They primarily use static stretches, where you hold a stretch for 20-30 seconds for two-three sets for each targeted muscle at home right after foam rolling, but progress to more active or dynamic types of stretches as they get closer to their actual work out. Remember to use foam rolling and static stretching as an important part of your cool down too. It can help you recover faster from your workout as well as reduce muscular soreness.

Your stretching routine may take 5-10 minutes depending on the number of muscles being stretched. A good place to start is with a type of self-massage that utilizes a foam roller to help alleviate knots in muscles. Try to focus on 2-3 muscle groups doing both the left and right sides of the body. The second type of technique that you should use is called static stretching, in which stretches are held for approximately 30 seconds. Again, try to focus on 2-3 muscle groups, stretching both the left and right sides of the body. For example, you can begin by foam rolling both calves, inner thighs, and latissimus dorsi (large back) muscles. Next, you can perform static stretches for both calves, inner thighs and latissimus dorsi. This stretching program should take approximately six minutes to complete.

After you have warmed up for 3-5 minutes you can do light stretching or foam roll for another 3-5 minutes. I prefer to do my stretching after I work out.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.