The Importance of Stretching Part 2
So we’ve covered our pre routine stretching, getting our body moving, active and warm. We’ve gone through our hardworking workout and put our body through some exhausting tension, time to sit down and relax right? Nearly there, but let’s not forget to give ourselves a proper cooldown and a stretch off, you’ll thank yourself for it tomorrow!
The workouts finished and you’re nearly ready to get yourself relaxing, but make sure you have that cooldown and stretch, why you ask?
Well our first reason, your body has just been put under great tension so by stretching our muscles off we relax them. Through the exercises we undertake, our muscle can get tight under the tension and as we stretch we begin to increase the blood circulation around the body. This allows the muscles to begin to relax and ease the strain we’ve put them under.
Our second is to allow the body to return to it’s natural position and reset our posture. Through the workout you can put your body into an unnatural position of rounded shoulders, tight hamstrings and more. So as we stretch off we can help re-align our body and posture, crucial for avoiding injuries and aiding in your strengthening.
The final point is it increases your flexibility and reduces the stiffness we can face after a workout. Increasing our flexibility is great for our mobility which can help with future exercise movements and general living.
Post workout stretching
So what stretches do we need to do after our exercises, well this is the perfect time for static stretching. These are our holding stretches to relax our muscles and reduce the soreness that will come from the workout. There are a number of static stretches that we can undertake after a workout and it’s important that we target those that we have worked the hardest or feel the tightest.
Above shows some examples of these stretches and what muscles they target. Like stated above, the most important part of your post exercise stretching needs to be focused on those that are the tightest/sorest to help them relax, reduce the stiffness and aid your recovery/growth.
Static stretching can also be undertaken on it’s own to help improve your flexibility, and the rise of yoga is a great example of this. The premise is the same, it’s movements of static stretching that increase our flexibility and mobility, which can be transferable into exercise, sport and general living.
Our final point on static stretching is PNF stretching, a more advanced technique you can look to add to your routine as you progress. It aids in increasing our flexibility again, first developed for rehabilitation, used every once in a while it can help continue your progress or flexibility, aid your posture and lower the risk of injury.
It can work on the principle of after holding a stretch for a few seconds, taking a deep breath in and allowing our muscles to stretch that bit further as we breathe out and again holding. But keep it simple, don’t overdo it and make sure your prepared before beginning to use PNF stretches.