A stretching workout is a workout that consists entirely of stretching exercises. Stretching can be a great way to increase flexibility, improve posture and balance, and relieve stress, among other benefits. Though yoga and Pilates are some of the most common types of stretching workouts, it is not necessary to follow a strict set of guidelines or postures in order to get an effective stretching workout.
A stretching workout might be an every day routine, or it might only happen a few days per week. Some people incorporate stretching activities after an aerobic workout, when the muscles are warm. It is generally best to avoid stretching after a strength training workout, however. The other great benefit to a stretching workout is that it does not require any special gear, just some comfortable clothes and a non-slip surface to stretch on. A yoga mat works very well.
It is best to plan ahead by searching online or reading some books regarding stretching workouts to see what kinds of stretches one should do. As much as possible, try to stretch all the different areas of the body in a stretching workout. This will prevent any particular muscles from becoming tight and overworked. Focus on stretching the arms, legs, back, neck, and abdominal muscles in each workout.
Before beginning a stretching routine, it is best to warm up a bit and not stretch cold muscles. This can be done with a quick walk or even some jumping jacks; just a short bit of aerobic activity to get the blood flowing to the muscles. Then, begin the stretch routine slowly, gliding into the stretch until the tightness in the muscle is evident; a small bit of discomfort is to be expected, but if any sharp, shooting pains occur, stop right away. In addition, never bounce into a stretch; bouncing instead of gliding smoothly causes the muscles to rapidly contract and relax, which is an easy way to injure oneself.
Try incorporating some yogic principles into a stretching workout; relax into the stretch and breathe for a few moments, allowing the muscle to relax. Then slowly come back out of the stretch and try to flow right into the next one. A stretching workout does not have to be long; ten or 15 minutes in the morning or evening can be enough to give the body benefits, and to make one more flexible and energetic in other workouts as well.