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Why is stretching so important before or after a workout?
Stretching often takes a backseat in most workout routines. This happens significantly more with men than woman, and can lead to a disaster in the gym. Stretching is just as important, both before and after your workout, as it helps in preventing injury. It might not be the most vigorous of exercises, but both static (stretching in one fixed position) and dynamic (stretching in variable positions) stretches are beneficial to your body, and will help in keeping it fighting fit till the next session. So what does stretching help with?
This is a no-brainer. Stretching helps in keeping the body flexible and nimble. It stretches out those muscle groups that aren’t used in most major workouts, and helps cut down on the nervous involvement of unwanted muscles during workouts. Post-workout stretching helps keep the tendons and muscles flexible for the next session, which would otherwise have tensed up and caused tears and sores. You also build up a greater degree of motion for all your joints, which aids in various ways during different exercises.
2. Pain And Improved Circulation
Your heart rate spikes during a workout, and beats at an abnormally elevated rate. Stretching helps ease it down to a normal level. Your muscles tighten during workout, which increases risks for injury. Stretching helps ease them back into a more relaxed state, further improving blood circulation and preventing cramps. Stretching also has the added benefit of eliminating lactic acid, which gets accumulated in your body during a workout. It cools down your body gradually, decreasing strain on your heart.
So what sort of stretches should you be doing?
1. Static stretching
There are two basic types of stretching, dynamic and static. Static stretching is an exercise where you elongate a certain muscle or muscle group to a point where it is nearly uncomfortable and hold it for a period of time between 30 – 60 seconds. Static stretching is recommended for after workouts. It improves muscle interactions, maintains range of motion and keeps muscle tissues healthy.
2. Dynamic stretching
Dynamic stretching is more active, as you keep your body in motion while you stretch. The movements are tightly controlled and precise, and proper execution greatly adds to athletic performance. Dynamic stretches are great warm ups, and a gentle, easy way to get your heart rate up. It’s also a great full body exercise for people who cannot exercise much, and is a great way to engage all the muscle groups in your body.
Thus, static stretches are the perfect way to maintain the flexibility of your body. You should be making them a mandatory part of your post-workout regime as it provides the necessary care and maintenance to your muscles. It decreases muscle fatigue and prevents a lot of injuries. You could incorporate dynamic stretches into your warm up and mid-workout, when you can get your entire body ready for the workout and cut down on nervous involvement of unwanted muscle groups.