There is a lot written about different workout methods and routines, but there is one important thing that usually stays in the shade- stretching! Most of us know the importance of stretching, but we rarely take the time to do it! Today I am gonna focus specifically on post work out stretching.
How often do you hear the excuses “ I don’t have time to stretch”; “I am not flexible enough to stretch”;”I am just too tired, and the only thing I want is to go home”; “ I might stretch later” and etc. I hear it every time I ask somebody to stretch!
Tell you the truth once upon a time I was doing the same thing. I was always in a rush, and never found the time to stretch after practice. Actually I wasn’t even aware of the benefits from post work out stretching. That wasn’t causing me any harm until started working out more intensively and incorporating weights. What happened is that I was getting really sore every day. I was contracting my muscles during workouts, but never gave them the chance to relax, so in return they became tighter and tighter. I am naturally flexible, but during that time I felt like an 80 year old office worker that has never moved in his life! When I tried to bend and touch my toes, I felt like my muscles were tearing apart. I started having low back problems and as a whole I felt as I was falling apart.
Fortunately I realized that stretching is my problem or to be more accurate the lack of stretching! Truth is that if you are dedicated to your health and workouts, but you don’t take the time to stretch after workout, you are cheating on yourself! You are pretty much ruining all the hard work you do in the gym!
What happens when you do not stretch after workout
So let me explain what happens when you workout and don’t stretch! When you exercise your muscles get tight. By doing different movements, like squatting, jumping, running and so on, you are contracting your muscles! So far so good. You finish the workout, running out of the gym because you are in a rush! Did you forget something? Your bag? “No!”; Your shoes?”No!” Your stretching? “Ah…!”. Yea that’s right you forgot your stretching! You spend so much time making your muscles tighter and tighter but you don’t take time for lengthening them.
What happens next is that you reach to a point, where the tightening of the muscles gets imbalanced, some muscles are stronger and tighter and start pulling at areas of your body. That is what causes the pain!
I will give you an example with myself. I love to do heavy squats, but as I mentioned I used to do them, without stretching afterwards. When my quads and hip flexors became tighter and tighter, they pulled the femurs more forward than they were supposed to be and that lead to a strong back and hip pain.
Stretching has a lot of benefits– increases tendons flexibility, prevents injury, prevents muscle soreness, improves circulation, improves range of motion, increases athletic performance and a bunch of other things.
Let’s take a quick look at some things listed above.
Increased flexibility is vital not only for your workouts but also for your daily activities! The more flexibility you have, the easier it is to bend, squat, walk, climb stairs and so on.
We already discussed that stretching actually relieves your tightened muscles. This improves your blood flow to the muscles and thus they get the oxygen they need.
Stretching makes your next workout more effective
Remember the last time you had a killing workout but rushed out of the gym door, without stretching? How did you feel the next day? You could hardly get out of bed! Your legs felt heavier, sore and tight. You were supposed to workout, but you felt so terrible that it was better to stay at home than go workout and risk an injury. Stretching after workouts ensures that your muscles won’t be stiff the next day, which allows you to follow your workout routine every day!
Think about post workout stretching as an investment in your health and fitness. Just like you pay money to go to college and get education, “pay” some additional time to stretch your muscles and stay healthy and fit!
Here you can find a lot of useful information about stretching: