Preparation stretches are the stretches you perform before your main workout. These stretches should always be performed after your warm up and never before. This is because your muscles need to be warm to be able to gently stretch without risking injury.
Stretching a cold muscle just does not have much effect on the range of movement and it could also cause pain and damage the muscle fibres.
Preparation stretches reduce the tension in your muscles and help to increase the muscle length to prepare your muscles for your workout.
Static or dynamic stretches
Normally preparation stretches are performed as static stretches, though sometimes they can be performed as dynamic stretches if they are in preparation for sport.
For example, you may see footballers side stepping along at the side of the pitch before playing and using leg circles to stretch their inner thighs ready for the match.
Preparation stretches should be performed standing up if possible to ensure the body temperature remains elevated, in preparation for the main workout.
If you perform these stretches sitting or lying down, the body temperature will fall and you will start to relax – just what you don’t want when preparing for a strenuous workout!
For the glute stretch, some people still sit to perform it, as pictured below. To perform this stretch standing up, you need to balance on one leg and cross your ankle over the other knee.
In preparation for exercise, you should aim to stretch all the main muscles in the body. To do this, a series of stretches should be performed targeting the upper and lower body, including the arms, legs, shoulders, chest, legs, sides and back.
Of course, if you know you are going to be focusing on your legs during your workout not your arms, leg stretches should form the majority of your stretching.
Explore the most common preparation stretches in the table below, which shows an image of the stretch being performed and gives details of the area of the body it is used for, along with the muscle it targets in brackets:
What preparation stretches do you think are most useful or important for preparing muscles for a workout?
Do you have any other stretches to add to this list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.