The Importance Of Stretching Before/After A Workout
A vital but perhaps the most overlooked step in everyone’s fitness regime is stretching. The idea of skipping the stretch and just jumping into your weights or cardio seems ideal, as we all are time poor. However this unhealthy habit can seriously hinder your progress, health and results. But how exactly does stretching improve your fitness and body functionality?
Reduces Pain and Stiffness- Excessive running or weight training strains the body in order to build muscle, however excessive muscle tension can increase discomfort throughout the body. This tension and stiffness can easily set you up for pain and injury, which will decrease your fitness abilities. Regularly performing static stretches before each workout can help decrease stiffness, reduce pain levels, and reduce the tension so your muscles won’t cramp. Stretching loosens your body up so you can easily build muscle and stamina without too much strain.
Enhanced Range Of Motion- Stretching can help enhance the movement of the major joints of the body, including the key areas that are designed to be mobile like your hips, shoulders, ankles, etc. These key movement areas of the body are vital for most exercise routines, such as running, squats, weight lifting, and if they aren’t working properly then you won’t be able to function to the fullest of your ability. It is essential to loosen these key areas of the body up before you work use them, as it will help with your range of motion.
May Reduce Injury- Dynamic stretches, such as walking lunges, hamstring stretches, etc., are the ones used as part of a warm up to help increase body temperature and prepare the body for movements to come. If this dynamic stretching isn’t done correctly or even at all, and you jump full fledge into working out with cold muscles and tendons, there is a far greater chance you’ll rupture or sprain the part of your body. These ruptures will force you to rest for weeks and months if necessary.
Reduce Muscle Fatigue/ Help Muscles Recover Faster- As you work your body out, your muscles are left in a shortened state, this can cause muscles to be weak and unable to extend all the way. Proper stretches after each workout resets your body back to a natural position/ posture and will align your muscles to their proper state and help them gain more strength. In addition, the best time to stretch is after each workout, as your muscles are more loose and pliable.
Stretching is always the first element to go when we are low on time or too focused on our workouts, however it is perhaps one of the most important steps of your fitness routine. Make sure to put in stretching time before and after each workout to optimise your fitness results and the health of your body.