Stretching is an often underestimated component of a well-rounded fitness routine. Many individuals tend to skip or rush through stretching before and after workouts, believing it to be less important than the actual exercises. However, this couldn't be further from the truth. In this blog we will go through the importance of stretching, how you should stretch before and after workouts along with this long term positive effects.
The first and most important part about stretching is because it helps with injury prevention. By moving your body into more limbered movements, especially with muscle shortening movements like weight lifting and running, it helps your body stay looser both in the workout and in day to day so you can move your best without a weird tweak.
This is because by stretching you are enhancing your flexibility. By having a larger range of motion will allow you to do more and build more. It allows over all more function leading to better performance in you workout. Stretching allows muscles to work at their best because they are not overly constricting. By avoiding this shortening you are actually going to be able to limit muscle soreness. Over all you are able to put yourself in a better position all of which we will dive into further!
But before we get into the larger long term positives let's understand what kind of stretching we should do to acquire these results.
There are two main forms of stretching that you want to do on your own before and after a workout. First, there is dynamic stretching. This is what you want to do before your workout and you are constantly moving through stretching positions. This helps open up the area you are planning to workout, hip, shoulders, etc, and allows for the body to be warmed up in a way that prepares for the exercise at hand. The more often you do this the better your movements will become in your workout and the likelihood of an injury during activity is greatly reduced.
The next large form is static stretching. This is the form most people think of when thinking of stretching. You are choosing movements/ stretches to stay in and hold allowing for the full elongation of the muscle. This is important after your workout. This is because during your workout you will have shortened your muscles through movement and muscle tears. To ensure you will not have a loss in movement or a greater chance to move better for my workout tomorrow static stretching is key!
So, now we know the best ways to stretch ourselves and some of the shorter benefits that we may see within a week or even a day but what about the long term benefits?
First, and something many people don't think about, is how stretching actually helps reduce stress. Many of us go to the gym because it helps us whined down and not think about our hectic days. But putting large strain on our bodies can put added stress into our muscles. Just as the workout helps with mental stress stretching helps greatly with the physical stress. As your body relaxes so can your mind allowing everything to feel better in the long run.
By reducing this stress you also can target your weakest areas and especially your pain areas. Many of our pains are because of overly tight muscles that we have not given the proper care. In time stretching continuously will help heal various aches and pains.
All in all, stretching is not difficult and has so many benefits there is no reason for one not to throw it into their routine. I know it may seem a bore and not as exhilarating as your workout but it can really help heal your body and mind and allows you to keep doing what you love longer. Give it a try and let's keep working to become the best versions of ourselves.