Stretching Before and After a Workout

by Danica on July 9, 2013

It’s always important to warm-up before a workout and cool-down after a workout.  Stretching plays an important role in the quality of your workout and in avoiding injuries.

There are 2 main types of stretches: dynamic and static.

Dynamic vs. Static Stretches

Dynamic Stretching

A dynamic stretch is a stretch in which the muscle is extended but that extension is not held.
This is a moving stretch.

dynamic stretches

Dynamic Stretching should be done before a workout.
By doing this type of stretching pre-workout, your muscles get warmed up and prepare to continue with more extensive movement.

a few examples:

Static Stretching

A static stretch is a stretch in which the muscle is extended and held for a period of time while the body is still.
This is a resting stretch.

static stretch

Static Stretching should be done after a workout.
By doing this type of stretching post-workout, after your heart rate is back to a resting rate, your muscles will be elongated, your flexibility and joint range of motion will be improved, and your body has the opportunity to correct muscle imbalances.

a few examples:


Both types of stretches play an important role in your health!

By doing the appropriate stretch at the appropriate time;

  • your muscles correct imbalances
  • you gain flexibility, balance, and control
  • your workout will be stronger and more beneficial overall
  • you avoid muscle strain and injury


What are your favorite stretches to do before and after a workout?

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl July 9, 2013 at 7:39 am

I am really bad about not stretching before OR after my workouts. I guess that I am usually so ready to get my working out on so that I can be done faster, which then results in my not stretching. I really need to start incorporating some of these in.
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2 Danica July 10, 2013 at 8:31 am

Walking is my favorite way to warm-up for a workout – maybe try something like that, where it’s big dynamic movements (like the elliptical) so that you’re moving but not doing anything high-intensity quite yet. It might be a good transition to getting used to warming up before your workout!


3 Sarah @ OurPersonalRecords July 9, 2013 at 8:41 am

This is so important because I do not stretch properly basically ever. Thank you for the suggestions on static stretches! I know it’s important to do these before working out but I never really know what I should be doing. This is helpful!
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4 Rachel @ Undercover Diva: A Sitcom July 9, 2013 at 10:19 am

I’m HORRIBLE about stretching before a workout…in that I don’t do it, but I have gotten so much better about stretching after a workout. I love stretching out my calves and my IT band. My favorite IT stretch is to cross my leg over my other leg (in a standing position) and squat (if this makes any sense). It really stretches out my IT band in my butt and my hip. It hurts so good.
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5 Danica July 10, 2013 at 8:32 am

I love that stretch! And I definitely have to stretch (and foam roll) my IT band, after runs especially, or I’ll know I didn’t later!


6 Laura July 9, 2013 at 11:56 am

I love doing leg swings before workouts, gets things loose and moving! After workouts I love “roadkill” just lay flat on your back on the ground( or on your stomach)…feels amazing. But then you can turn it into an actual stretch and cross one leg over the other while you lay there.
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7 Danica July 10, 2013 at 8:33 am

I do leg swings too – they make me feel like a dork but they do the job well! :)

I used to be obsessed with, after runs, laying right next to the wall with my feet up on it so my body was in a 90-degree angle.


8 Tara@PNWRunner July 9, 2013 at 2:00 pm

thank you for the reminder! I’ll be doing lots of hip flexor stretching since I ran tooo much over the weekend!
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9 Danica July 10, 2013 at 8:34 am

I hear ya! I’ve never been injured (knock on wood), but the first place that lets me know I’m not stretching enough is definitely my hip flexors.


10 Sarah @ A Refining Adventure July 9, 2013 at 4:38 pm

I’m awful at stretching…especially post-workout. Hence my dwindling flexibility. Thanks for sharing the examples, great to have some new ideas to try.
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11 Danica July 10, 2013 at 8:34 am

I never love doing the post-workout stretching, but I remind myself that it only takes a few minutes to do and will make my next workout *that* much better ;)


12 Jessie July 9, 2013 at 10:59 pm

Confession: I’m horrible at stretching after a workout. Sometimes I would purposely forget so I’d be extra sore and would then have Joshua give me leg massages, Ha Ha!
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13 Danica July 10, 2013 at 8:35 am

haha after long runs my husband gives me calf massages too :)


14 Davida @The Healthy Maven July 10, 2013 at 4:23 pm

I always start with dynamic and end with static but I never ever forget to foam roll most importantly! Stretching and rolling out my hammies is definitely my fav (even if it is the most painful!)
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15 Danica July 10, 2013 at 10:26 pm

I love my foam roller too! I use it after every run (after some static stretches). It makes such a big difference in recovery!


16 Paige August 11, 2013 at 6:54 pm

That Runner’s World dynamic stretching set is awesome! Thank you! Also, I need to learn how to properly use my foam just sits in the corner of my room and we stare at each other haha.
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