Thrive at home: 3 stretches to do before you hit the gym

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Dennis Rittenhouse (above) works out at Equinox. | Photos by Kevin Tanaka/Sun-Times

Should you stretch before you workout? After? Should you hold a stretch, or move while stretching?

Things have changed since your gym teacher told you to stretch your quads quickly before hitting the track.

In 2010, the American College of Sports Medicine sent out a new set of recommendations that advised against doing static stretches before physical activity, according to the New York Times.

Instead, do dynamic moving stretches to warm up a little bit before exercising, said Dennis Rittenhouse, a trainer at Equinox.

“Dynamic stretching, as opposed to static stretching, more closely resembles the demands you will put on your body while you are exercising. You do not work out remaining still so you can’t get ready for working out while remaining still,” Rittenhouse said.“Static stretching is ideal for a cool down. When you’re body is warm after a workout you can safely increase the range of a static stretch and this will help you relax after a workout.”If you want to warm up before getting active or just stretch out after a long period of sitting still, Rittenhouse suggests trying the three moves demonstrated below.

“These are to be performed prior to working out in order to promote circulation, which will help prevent injury and prime your central nervous system — which can lead to increased performance,” he said.

 1. Knee extension/hamstring stretch:



“Start with your palms and feet flat on the floor and your knees fully bent in a squatting position. Slowly straighten your legs while keeping your palms on the floor. Hold for a moment and then repeat for 5-10 repetitions.”

2. Hip opener/adductor stretch:




“Begin seated on your butt with your spine erect and your legs outstretched to either side of your body. Slowly rock your hips and tilt your pelvis forward and back for 10 -15 repetitions. Inch your hips forward and repeat the process.”

3. Shoulder opener/posterior chain stretch:



“Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding an exercise band above your head with a grip slightly wider than shoulder width. Simultaneously, push your hips back while pulling the band apart above and behind your head. Attempt to feel the stretch in your hamstrings while pinching your shoulder blades together. Repeat for 5-10 repetitions. This is a great way to stretch upper and lower body with one movement.”

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