We talked about yesterday how stretching should supplement your fitness routine. I have to admit to you that I am like a lot of people who would rather blow it off because after an hour workout, I am ready to move on and get to the next thing on my to do list. I stretch some, but probably need to stretch a little more, although I am rationalizing that a little is better than nothing. Exercise can cause the muscle groups to contract, so it is wise to stretch them afterwards.
Why you should stretch:
There are several good reasons to stretch including these:
- Relieves stress. It feels good to relax your tense muscles at the end of your workout and it also provides a nice and relaxing mental “exhale” when you complete your exercise.
- Helps range of motion and improves flexibility. Stretching helps makes you more mobile and less prone to falls due to better balance, and this is a good thing, especially as we get older.
- Improves circulation. Stretching is said to increase blood flow to the muscles, which can help speed recovery after muscle injuries and repair the muscles after a workout.
Here are some tips to stretching after your workout:
- Warm up first. It is better to stretch after exercising when you are warmed up. If you stretch in the beginning, first do some low intensity exercise for a few minutes to ensure that you won’t hurt yourself by trying to stretch cold muscles.
- Stretch major muscle groups. Be sure and stretch the same muscle groups that you use in your workout as weight training and other exercise causes muscle groups to contract. It’s the Yin and Yang, you’ve exercised, the muscle contracts, then you restore it through stretching it back out.
- Correct Form. While stretching, hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 or 4 times. Don’t bounce because this can cause small tears in the muscle which can leave scar tissues. When the muscle heals it will tightens even more.
Use good sense when you stretch, don’t try to over do it and go for a pain free and relaxing experience. Enjoy the restful cool down that you are giving your body and don’t forget to breathe.