What’s the first thing you do after a workout?
A shower, protein shake or anything food related are popular options, but you could be missing out on one of the most important parts of working out.
It’s soothing, empowering and it only takes 5-10 minutes.
Stretching post-workout is one of the most overlooked components of modern-day fitness.
In today’s fast-paced world of high-intensity training, the importance of stretching has been forgotten.
Here are 10 reasons you should stretch after every workout.
Increase Your Flexibility
Pre or post-workout stretching? We say both.
But if you only have time to stretch once during a workout, make it after.
Post-workout stretches get deeper as the body is already warm and ready to relax. This, in turn, will increase your flexibility.
Improved flexibility plays an important part towards improving your fitness performance and reducing the risk of injury.
The more you stretch, the easier it will become to bend, squat, lunge, jump and generally move.
Stretching, releasing and lengthening your muscles will maximise endurance and muscular power next time you need them to perform a strenuous training session.
You will find yourself accomplishing new challenges as you can get lower, move faster and bend further.
Reduce Your Chance of Injury
Introducing a post-workout stretch routine will improve your body’s range of motion making you less likely to injure yourself later down the track.
While exercise is the best way to build strength and stamina, we are also putting our muscles under a lot of stress during each session.
The more strain and resistance on our muscles, the more likely we’re to cause damage.
Static stretching is vital for tired muscles to repair and regain their shape.
By holding each stretch for 25-30 seconds, the muscles loosen and reset themselves.
Come to your next fitness session, your muscles will be refreshed and ready to go.
Slowly Release Endorphins
There are endless reasons to workout. But when all is said and done, the reality is, working on your fitness is tough work.
So what really gets us through? Endorphins.
It’s the post-workout buzz that keeps us coming back for more.
Those feel-good chemicals released after a workout start to kick-in during the cool down process.
By stretching, you slow down the cooling process making your endorphin rush go further.
Who doesn’t want to feel better for longer?
Regulate Blood Circulation
Muscles feed off oxygen and nutrients brought in by blood.
When your muscles are working harder during an intense workout, your heart will pump more oxygen to the muscles at a faster rate – hence feeling out of breath.
Stretching gives the body time to cool down safely as the blood flow slowly goes back to normal along with the heart rate.
As you cool down and stretch the muscles, the blood circulation goes back to its regular pace allowing for recovery and muscle repair.
Eliminate Lactic Acid
If you’ve noticed a painful burning sensation in your muscles during intense workouts, it could be a build up of lactic acid.
Lactic acid is produced in the muscles, so when they’re working overtime, the lactic acid can build up causing muscle fatigue and soreness.
To eliminate the build-up of lactic acid in the body, be sure to stretch post-workout. This will immediately stop the production of lactic acid and allow the muscles to relax and recover.
Exercise makes us feel good (thank you endorphins) and gives us the energy boost to tackle physically and mentally demanding jobs ahead.
Sometimes, however, a hard workout can make our muscles feel more fatigued and in need of rest.
To boost your energy benefits post-workout, be sure to incorporate invigorating stretches such as hip openers, straddle stretches, quad stretches, long lunges, and downward dog.
Decrease Lower Back Pain
If you live with lower back pain, you would understand the feeling of a bad workout. Sometimes, working out can trigger back pain stronger than it felt before.
Unfortunately, this causes many people to avoid working out.
Don’t hang up the shoes too easily and miss out on valuable exercise. Simply incorporate back friendly stretches to strengthen and lengthen the lower back.
Some winning stretches for back pain relief include; hip flexors, kneeling lunges, chin to chest, knees to chest, and pelvic tilts.
Post-workout stretching and lengthening will help you sit and stand straighter.
Good posture is vital towards maintaining a healthy spine by keeping bones and joints in the correct alignment and decreasing stress on the ligaments.
Maintaining a healthy posture prevents the spine from setting into an abnormal position, which helps prevent back and muscular pain from developing.
Reduces Muscle Soreness
Sore muscles are stressed muscles, and they need some TLC to give you the results you want.
If you are training the same muscles every day, they don’t get the chance to regenerate and grow.
Stretching is so important for muscle recovery.
The notions of lengthening and loosening give muscles range of motion and decrease stiffness.
Another way to ensure your muscles are well and truly ready to workout again is by switching the muscle groups every day.
If you don’t look after your muscles by stretching and giving them time to rest, it could lead to a plateau in fitness goals or worse, injury.
Stretching is just as beneficial for our mind as it is our muscles.
It gives us an opportunity to tune into our body and connect with the breath. Stretching helps us unwind, harmonise the mind, and relieve stress.
Take the opportunity to sit still in each stretch and focus on the breath. You’ll feel centred, relaxed and wholesome.