I believe the importance of stretching is under-emphasized. It isn’t that often that you walk into a gym and see members doing pre or post workout stretching. I’m hoping by sharing the effects and benefits it will make you consider adding it to your workout routine.
Stretching warms up muscles making them more susceptible to the workout. Warmed up muscles receive the utmost benefit from a workout and will grow faster and healthier. That’s right – stretching before a workout will make you stronger. It is also necessary for increasing your range of motion. Stretching releases synovial fluid that is stored in the joints. This fluid lubricates all the joints, protecting them from friction and injury. Stretching brings blood supply to the soft tissues. This improves endurance so you don’t tire as easily. It also helps to elongate muscles, provide flexibility, promote healing and prevent future injury.
Failure to stretch before your workout may result in decreased performance. Your muscles may feel sore at the end of your workout because of the strong contractions gained from sudden, forceful movements. Soft tissue tears may occur in the muscles, tendons and ligaments as well as sprains and strains. Having these problems then affect your activity inside and out of the gym for days and possibly even weeks.
Post workout stretching is just as or if not more important than pre workout stretching. Working out a muscle or muscle group means it has been continually contracted in the main workout. Stretching helps with getting the muscle back to it’s normal length. It also helps to alleviate potential soreness.
Tips for a good stretch:
• Start your workout with a stretch routine and end your workout with a stretch routine. Try and target all muscle groups, major and minor, that will be/were used during your workout.
• Hold each stretch for a slow count of 10-15. Stretches being done in too quickly of a manner are pretty much ineffective. Do them slowly and pay attention to the stretch.
• Breathe into each stretch to take it one step deeper. Exhale on the exertion.
• A little pain is okay and means that the stretch is working; a lot of pain means you’ve gone too far. Stop immediately and return to a light recovery stretch.
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