Are you about to head to the gym to workout? What does your typical workout routine look like?
You lift to get stronger and do rounds of cardio to lean out. By the time you’re finished, you’re probably exhausted so you sit down and rest your aching limbs.
Unfortunately, if this is your normal routine when you hit the gym, a personal trainer might think there’s one major step you’re missing: stretching.
Stretching and cooling down is an often overlooked after exercise but it is extremely important. Sure it might be the last thing that you want to do, but in the long run it is one of the best things that you can do for your body.
Why should you stretch after exercising? There are many reasons why this step is crucial to achieving maximum results:
1. To prevent injury
It is said that one of the ways to prevent injury after working out is stretching. How does stretching help prevent injury? According to Brad Walker from Stretch Coach, you should approach stretching in the same way that you approach strength training when working out.
Assess which areas need more flexibility when you workout and then focus on those the most during your stretching. If an area isn’t that tight, you don’t need to focus on it as much. By noticing which muscles are tighter and which ones aren’t, you will be working towards creating a balance in your flexibility.
Stretching is not only a good way to start cooling down after a workout, but also a way to improve your mood and help you to relax. When you stretch, your body releases endorphins into your bloodstream.
Endorphins are neurotransmitters in the brain that elevate mood and improve your mood. They are what gives you that “workout high” when you are in a good session of cardio. Stretching increases the production of these endorphins, so if you are feeling anxious or depressed, it helps elevate your mood as well. Stretching is a good way to calm down and relax after your workout and set the tone for your day.
Stretching after your workout may improve your range of motion and flexibility, according to MayoClinic.com.
If you lack flexibility you may have short, wide muscles. If you fit this category, it is recommended that you stretch frequently to combat decreased flexibility that comes with age. Even if you don’t exercise much, it is recommended to stretch 3-4 times a week.
Just remember that if it hurts, you’ve gone too far and you need to stop. Stretching shouldn’t be painful. Also make sure you breathe when stretching and it’s important that not to bounce.
4. Toned Muscles
Did you know that stretching coupled with strength training can tone your muscles? By not stretching, you risk losing your range of motion and stability. Just remember that your muscles are determined by genetics so your muscles can only be a certain length.
Why is stretching important for toning muscles?
Every muscle is enclosed in connective tissue called fascia which holds your muscles in their proper place. However, this tissue may restrict the growth of muscles and prevent them from expanding. So even if you train hard, you may not notice any bulking due to this muscle constriction.
What is the solution? Stretching.
If you stretch your muscles under specific conditions, you will allow you fascia to stretch and give your muscles the ability to grow. The best time to do this is when your muscle is full of blood. When your muscles are pumped up, you increase the pressure on fascia, leading to expansion.
To be effective, hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds when your muscles are fully pumped. Just be sure that when you do these stretches, you do not overexert yourself. There shouldn’t be any pain when you stretch.
5. Blood Flow
Studies have shown that stretching can improve blood flow. It helps the blood circulate back into your muscles at a more regulated rate. By move the blood through your system, it also helps bring the oxygen and nutrients in your blood to your organs. Increasing your blood flow to your muscles is also thought to help with muscle soreness and recovery time after a workout.
In conclusion, stretching after a workout can be very beneficial to your body in the long run. By consistently adding this step to your workout routine several times a week, it can help you recover after strenuous exercise and give you better results during your workout due to flexibility and range of motion. Not only will adding this to your session aid in developing a toner body, it will improve your mood due to the releasing of endorphins during your stretch.
As you can see, stretching after working out is pretty important. Too often it’s much too easy to leave the gym and head to the car in a hurry. Not giving too much thought to stretching. But I hope this article has convinced you to take the extra couple of minutes of your day and do your body a favor.by