Poplinger suggests warming up with several minutes of dynamic stretches before working out. These active stretches release muscle tightness and boost blood flow to improve flexibility, range of motion, and your ability to safely exert yourself.
If creating a stretching routine seems daunting, then start small, says Schale-Drake. Commit to just 3 to 5 minutes of stretching before and after your workouts to get into the habit, and then build from there. Your body will thank you.
The best way to build a stretching routine is to stretch, well, routinely, says Schale-Drake. Regularly setting aside those few minutes a day will help your stretch sessions start to feel like second nature.
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Not sure where to begin? Pick stretches that target your tightest muscles, says Schale-Drake. Chest muscles, hip flexors, hamstrings, and calves are often the worst offenders from spending hours sitting hunched at your desk, she adds.
Proper technique is crucial to getting the most out of your stretch session, says Poplinger. Consult with a fitness pro to help you master your form so you can avoid injury and reap all the benefits of stretching.
Listen to your body when you stretch, says Poplinger. While a lengthening sensation is healthy, forcing yourself into positions or over-stretching to the point of discomfort can cause injury, he explains. Prioritize quality over quantity, so to speak.