Do you stretch before and after workouts? On this front I’m the biggest culprit. Isn’t it enough that I have a bunch of exercises to do before we even get to the stretching?
Turns out that while I’m not alone in this thinking, I am wrong in this thinking. We should all be stretching before and after workouts if we’re to make the most of them and avoid injury. Here’s why:
To warm up your muscles
Warming up your muscles makes sure that less stress is placed on them during the workout. It’s been reported that there are fewer injuries when muscles have been sufficiently warmed up.
To improve flexibility
Whether you’ve noticed it or not, stretching before your workout improves your flexibility during your workout. This is important because it prepares your muscles to move through their full range of motion with ease and minimal discomfort.
To prepare your body
When you warm up with stretching, your heart rate goes up so that more blood and oxygen is flowing to your muscles. This gets your body ready for burning more energy, which puts you in the right place for a great and more effective workout.
To regulate your heart rate and blood flow
Stretching makes sure that the blood flows back into your muscles at a steady, more regulated rate. It brings your heart rate down slowly and revives your muscles as the oxygen and nutrients in the blood circulate.
To reduce soreness and muscle fatigue
Exercising makes your muscles shorter, and produces lactic acid, which makes your muscles tired and sore. Stretching eliminates the lactic acid, and helps to give your muscles back a more natural shape, so that you don’t have to struggle (as much) to climb the stairs after leg day.
To tone up and define your muscles
The more you stretch, the more your muscles will become toned and defined. Long, lean muscles are the product of lots of good stretching, nothing less.
So what about you? Do you stretch before or after your workouts? For how long?
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