Why is it important to stretch before you train?
Stretching is one of the most overlooked areas in exercise. Many people who work out, even some of our own clients underestimate the value of stretching after a workout. The common misperception is that stretching helps you to prevent stiff muscles the next morning. This is true to an extent but that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of stretching.
Different types of stretching
There are many ways to stretch apart from the stretching you did as a child on the sports field. Here are the different stretching styles.
Static stretch: This technique is stretching the muscle to a point of mild discomfort and holding that position for at least 30 seconds or longer. This is the most used form of stretching.
Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF): Although methods can vary, PNF involves holding a stretch while contracting and relaxing the muscle.
Dynamic stretch: Here you perform gentle and repetitive movements (such as arm swings) where one gradually increases the range of motion of the movement, but always remains within the normal range of motion.
Ballistic stretches: This method involves going into a stretch and performing bouncing or jerking movements to increase range of motion.
Benefits of stretching
Let us get into the purpose of this blog - Exploring the benefits and importance of stretching beyond just preventing stiff muscles in the morning.
Increase your flexibility
The most obvious one, yes but an invaluable factor to have when you are serious about your fitness. Not only does it prevent injuries, but you will also find it easier to bend, stand, squat and do a host of other flexibility related exercises, that may have not been possible otherwise. It has been seen that leg stretches done after a long run increases muscular power and endurance, which is a great benefit, especially for runners.
Increase muscle coordination
If you are into strength training, then this is a common benefit of stretching for you. When you stretch tired muscles, you give them better functional mobility and allow them to synchronize properly.
Improve blood circulation
When we are doing an intense workout like a HIIT workout, our bodies pump blood faster to the heart making it beat rapidly. When we stretch it allows our bodies to cool down and in turn helps the heartbeat to stabilize again. The release of lactic acid during an intense workout is broken with stretching.
Eliminate lactic acid
During a workout, your body produces lactic acid which causes the muscle to feel sore and stiff. Stretching eliminates the lactic acid and allows our muscles to relax after a workout.
Boost your energy
Who knew right? Stretching might be a tedious exercise for most, but it keeps your energy levels consistent. As we mentioned previously, stretching cools down the body. When the body cools down, the brain releases endorphins. Working out already gives you an energy boost but stretching post-workout will really change your energy levels throughout the day.
Great for mental health
Stretching is not only for preventing pain in your muscles after a workout. It has been found that stretching can reduce stress, relax your mood, and clear your mind. In the world we live in today our minds tend to be constantly cluttered. Exercising is one way to clear your mind but stretching can help you take it a step further in centering your thoughts.
At Fitness Fables, we will always encourage our clients to stretch after each workout. Stretching before and after your workout has so many benefits that we believe it to be an integral part of reaching your fitness goals. In addition, consistency is key when starting a new exercise plan, failing to stretch may leave you stiff and sore the next day making most people feel extremely discouraged.
Our Fitness Fables team will be able to equip you with the right stretches for your body-type, exercise routine and end goals. So if you ever wonder whether to stretch or not to stretch, save yourself the lecture from one of our trainers and just go ahead! Get that yoga mat out and start stretching warrior!