So today marks my 3rd workout for chest and back and I was able to lift more weight on the bent over row with my barbell and my chest press. Feels great to see the progress I am making. More importantly was the great stretching I did after. I almost forgot how rewarding and calming it is to stretch after exercising and as of lately I have been putting more effort into it, not rushing through in 3-4 minutes, but really stretching. Really focusing on my form, my breathing and loving the range of motion I am performing.
Stretching is so often neglected and I thought I would list some of the benefits of this great after workout routine. We stretch to improve our flexibility. Flexibility is the range of motion that is available to a joint or joints. Not only does it improve muscle balance around a joint but it improves posture in the process. It reduces the chance of injury when playing a sport or in every day activities, while increasing the blood and nutrient supplied to muscles and cartilages. It also has the power in reducing muscle soreness after training. And one of my favorites is that stretching reduces and helps manage your stress as stretched muscles hold less tension in them which make you less tensed. Stretching also lowers your risk of lower back pain as flexibility in your hamstrings, hip flexors and muscles attached to your pelvis relieves stress on your lumbar spine which in turn reduces your risk of lower back pain
Stretching should not be preformed to the extent that it is painful. It should be a mild stretch that allows you to breathe calmly and smoothly. Static stretches are the most beneficial stretches. These stretches isolate specific muscles for a few breaths. Bouncing during stretching, called ballistic stretching, can be detrimental and does not lead to more permanent stretching. Instead of holding the muscle in a stretch position, the body bounces, stretching the muscle further with every bounce. This activity can be dangerous because it causes stress on the joints and can lead to hyper-extending a muscle by not being able to judge just how far a stretch is possible. It also may engage the natural reflex of the golgi tendon which takes over the bouncing and does not offer any benefits to flexibility. Static stretches, when held at least thirty seconds, work to lengthen muscles and lead to flexibility.
So next time you work out – make sure that you are leaving time for stretching before hitting the change room. Stretching should be planned just like you plan your workout for the day – whether it is cardiovascular activity or lifting weights. You will feel like your workout is complete – TRY IT!