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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - It's Motivation Monday! Fitness expert Chris Freytag joined KARE 11 Sunrise with tips on stretching for your workout.

Start with a warm up: The perfect warm-up is to do a lower intensity version of whatever exercise you are about to do. Your goal during this time is to start to increase the temperature of your muscle tissue to prevent injuries.

Stretch at the end of your workout: It's best to stretch when you muscles are warm, after your workout and after you have brought your heart rate back to a comfortable zone. Stretching after your workout should be static meaning hold stretches in place. Make sure you hold stretches long enough. Follow the ACSM guidelines and hold each stretch for 20 to 40 seconds to reap the benefits. Stretching increases blood flow to the muscle and will only improve your workout results. If you stretch consistently, you will see improvements in your flexibility and range of motion.

Focus on Main Muscle Groups: Pay attention to your calves, hips, thighs, lower back, neck and shoulders. Always stretch on both sides and keep everything balanced. Also, perform stretches that are sport-specific. For instance, if you are a runner, be sure to stretch the hamstrings hips and calves thoroughly.

Listen to your Body: Make sure to breath. Inhale and prepare, exhale and go a little deeper into the stretch. If you ever feel pain, stop immediately. Back off to a comfortable point, and hold.
Stretching after exercise can help relax and balance tension caused by the workout itself. Post-workout, when your body is warm is the ideal time to stretch. The risk of muscle injury is much lower, and you will save yourself from tight, sore muscles the following day. Plus, the calm, relaxing feeling a good stretch produces is a great way to end an intense workout! Make stretching a habit and avoid any unnecessary pain!