Stretching: Before or After Your Workout?
People have their gym memberships and are ready to get fit. During group exercise class each member is dedicated and focused on their workout. Once the last push up, squat or abdominal crunch is completed they reach for their keys and head for the door. They know they should probably take a moment and stretch, but they really do not have time for that. After all, they did the most important part which was the workout. However, they could not be further from the truth.
In fitness classes or during one on one personal training, stretching is a vital step in your workout regime. When included regularly it takes your workout to a new level and refreshes the body like no other form of exercise. Learning more about when and how often to stretch before, during and after your workout is important.
Reasons to Stretch
Reduce risk of injury – flexible bone bends; stiff bones break
Improve performance – connective tissue absorbs impact with greater motion range
Blood flow – blood flows easier to muscles
Relaxes body and mind – focus on feeling good not feeling pain
Ease lower back pain – tight hamstrings are lengthened easing spinal pressure
Exercise is great for the body, but the body still takes a pounding from the exercise. When you add stretching after your workout you improve joint range. Tight joints and connective tissue puts a strain on the body. Stretching eases tight joints and muscles leaving the body better aligned and flexed.
Before the Workout
Nothing works well when it is stiff, so forcing deep stretching at the beginning of your workout could result in injury. Yes, you should stretch to warm the joints, muscles and connective tissue briefly. Holding your stretches for 3 to 5 seconds is sufficient. With your workout in front of you your body will warm up and increase blood flow circulation and flexibility during your workout routine.
During your Workout
Stretching during exercise may not be as common, but it is just as important. As the body temperature rises during exercise your range of motion is increased. This affects your performance allowing your muscles to function most efficiently.
After the Workout
When you stretch you increase your range of motion. This is how muscle tissue is elongated. This is especially true after exercise is over and you can dedicate more time to stretching. While the muscle is warm and pliable, hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds while breathing calmly. Each stretch will refresh your body and play a role in sculpting and definition. Your stretch routine should involve stretching all major muscle groups.
A stretched body is more balanced. Your body benefits from stretching at every stage of your exercise routine. Make it a staple part of your regular workout routine and discover a joy and relaxing moment for your body that only a great stretch can deliver.