28 Jun The Importance of Stretching Before and After a Workout
Stretching has shown to have numerous health benefits. Not only does it improve posture and muscle flexibility, it can also increase energy levels and release tension from the body. Whilst everyone should be stretching to maintain mobility and joint function, stretching is absolutely vital to the well-being of individuals who regularly partake in sport and physical activity.
Many people may think that stretching is an inconvenience or even a waste of time but this is not the case. Warming up and cooling down the muscles is important for preventing injury, pain and/or strains from occurring.
If you are someone who spends long periods working at a desk, and then starts exercising straight after finishing work, your muscles are naturally going to be tight and not prepared for the impending exercise. Any sudden activity or movement without stretching may damage your muscles and increase your risk of injury. Stretching before exercise will loosen up your muscles and increase your range of motion.
Stretching after a workout is just as important. The cooling down session or maintenance stretching helps to move lactic acid out of your muscles and reduces any soreness or stiffness that you may feel. This type of stretching can regulate the pace of blood flow throughout the body and help the muscles regain their shape.
Both pre-exercise and post-exercise stretches are important. The two stretching sessions serve entirely different purposes and therefore have very different movements. Experts’ research on this topic recommends that dynamic stretches be performed before a workout and static stretches be done after a workout.
Dynamic stretches consist of active movements that put muscles and joints through their full range of motion. The goal of dynamic stretching is to increase muscle temperature, reduce stiffness, improve performance and prevent injury. When correctly performed, dynamic stretches will improve speed, agility and acceleration during a workout which is great for helping you to achieve your fitness goals.
Static stretching on the other hand involves stretches that are held for a period of time, usually between 10-60 seconds depending on your ability and fitness level. Unlike dynamic stretches, a static stretch can be performed while standing still as it does not involve much movement.
Static stretches after a workout help to gradually slow down the body’s heart rate and return tired and constricted muscles to a more relaxed state. This increases muscle flexibility and decreases the risk of a post-workout injury. Static stretching does not involves all of the muscles. This type of stretching only involves the muscles that are
tight from your workout or from where the body has been inactive, sitting at a desk for example.
If you regularly workout or want to safely add exercise to your daily routine, take a few minutes before and after your workout to stretch. These extra minutes spent stretching are certainly worth it, not only to aid mobility but also prevent the occurrence of injury and pain.