This has always been a sticking point for so many people that I have seen come through our doors over the years in that, and i am going out on a limb here people, nearly everyone i know who, when they exercise on their own, doesn’t stretch before or after their exercise session. I’ll qualify that a little by saying that they might stretch a little bit but not nearly enough and almost certainly not correctly.
So, just a quick one this week but here are 3 reasons why you should stretch properly before and after your exercise sessions :
1. Injury Preventation
When you exercise your muscles contract to allow you do whatever it is you are doing, running, jumping etc so if you stop exercising and don’t cool down properly this means that your muscles will stop work in a contracted state. A couple of days later you go to exercise again and those unstretched muscles are asked to go to work again for you, then you stop at the end of your session and don’t stretch properly and so it goes on.
Not stretching properly after exercise can build up lactic acid in the muscles which can take days to clear and it also means that your muscles are just getting tighter and tighter with every workout. A tight muscle, when put under pressure can be more easily strained than a stretched one so you are increasing your risk of a muscle strain or joint pain where the muscle connects into your knee, for example.
2. Tight Muscles
Not as bad as a muscle strain or joint problem but can still be really uncomfortable for a couple of days after you have exercised; getting up and down stairs or just sitting on the toilet can become an issue. Bad backs can sometimes be the cause of really tight hamstrings and a tight lower back can be really uncomfortable, especially if you have a sedentary job. So, tight muscles can be prevented simply by stretching out your muscles for 5 mins or so at the end of your workout.
3. Improved Performance
By Stretching properly at the end of each session you will avoid points 1 and 2 on this list which means, guess what? You can exercise again the next day (or day after) and hit it hard instead of waiting whilst your muscles or joints recover from earlier sessions in the week! If you can exercise more regularly and pain free, then you will of course get better results from your exercise routine and that can only be a good thing, right?
Top Tips for Stretching After Exercise
- Finish your workout/session 5 mins before you need to leave the gym and use that 5 mins to stretch.
- If you run, always stop 5 mins before your finish point and walk it back, followed by your stretches of course.
- Hold your post-exercise stretches for 45-60secs per stretch to allow the muscle to lengthen as much as possible
To keep things really simple for starters just focus on these 3 main stretches and maybe add in a glute stretch as well and then you have the main muscles stretched out at least.
So, please make sure that you stretch out properly next time; as a personal trainer i make sure all my clients are stretched at the end of each session and during it if necessary, but that’s for another post.
So, as usual I welcome your thoughts and comment in the section below this post and in the meantime…………….Enjoy those stretches!