Stretch or Suffer!

Figure 4 Standing Stretch

Stretch or suffer needs to be said because I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve forgotten to stretch and felt the painful consequences of DOMs one or two days later. Stretching isn’t ideal when you have a busy schedule. However, when you don’t stretch, the next workout feels much harder and it may take more time to get everything done.

Benefits of Stretching

  • Improves flexibility and decreases stiffness.
  • Reduces muscle soreness after a workout – Post-exercise stretching can alleviate some of the lactic acid build up.
  • Improves range of motion – This correlates with the slower degeneration of joints. A greater range of motion also improves performance by making movements more efficient.
  • Improves posture – Back alignment is improved by stretching the chest, shoulders and lower back.
  • Can decrease the chances of getting lower back pain – Tight hip flexors and hamstrings can cause tension on the lumbar spine, stretching relieves this.
  • Improves circulation – Blood supply to the joints and muscles are increased.
  • Decreases muscle tension – In turn, reduces stress.

Cool Down Stretches

Here are some stretches to do immediately after your workout. These are all static stretches. Hold each stretch for up to a minute each. After about 30 seconds it should be possible to increase the stretch slightly to get the full benefits. Avoid doing static stretching before your workout. Do dynamic stretching instead (the moving stretches). Static stretching is effective after a workout because the muscles are warm.

Dynamic Stretches

Dynamic stretches are good as a warm up before a workout. They also improve range of motion, like static stretching, but do not sacrifice muscle strength. Its beneficial if dynamic stretches replicate movements in the workout/sport. Warm ups reduce the risk of injury.

Stretching and Fat Loss

Stretching aiding the recovery process, has got to be a benefit for fat loss as it enables us to workout again at a similar intensity.

I’d love to here your thoughts on stretching, comment below…

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