One of the most overlooked aspects of exercise is stretching after a strenuous workout. Stretching tired and sore muscles after a workout is essential as it enhances flexibility and reduces muscle tension after a workout.
It also helps in muscle recovery and repair. Ideally, one should do 2-3 stretching exercises for every muscle group. Here are some benefits of stretching after a workout.
Benefits of Post Workout Stretches
One of the foremost benefits of stretching is increased and enhanced flexibility of the different muscle groups. Flexibility as we all know is an important aspect of fitness and is necessary to reduce muscular tension. It helps constricted and contracted muscles to come back to their original form.
With consistent post -workout stretching, the body becomes more flexible. You will find it easier to bend, stand, squat and do a host of other flexibility related exercises, which would have otherwise not been possible. It has been seen that leg stretches done after a long run increases muscular power and endurance especially for runners.
When you indulge in an intense workout, the body pumps blood faster to the heart making it beat at a rapid rate. Stretching allows the body to cool down and also helps the heart beat to return to normalcy. The release of lactic acid during an intense workout is broken with stretching.
This allows muscle recovery and repair. The blood circulation to the muscles is once again resumed with stretching. This also allows the heart rate to come back to its original resting rate.
If you are new to the fitness industry, an intense workout especially with weights can leave your muscles sore and painful. Stretching properly after a workout will not dissipate the pain but will definitely minimize it to a large extent. On the other hand, if your muscles remain tight after a workout, it increases your risk of a pulled hamstring or some other injury. Stretching can actually minimize and reduce your predisposition to injuries.
Greater Range of Motion
If you regularly stretch your muscles after a workout, you will notice better results in the long run. Muscles that have not been stretched tend to remain constricted which prevents you from using them to their full capacity.
On the other hand, if you use your muscles and stretch them after a workout, you will be able to utilize the same muscles towards a greater range of motion. This will get your better results because you will have used your muscles to their maximum capacity.
Eliminates Lactic Acid
The moment you workout muscles, the body produces lactic acid which makes the muscles fatigued and sore. Hence, it is important to stretch as stretching eliminates the lactic acid that has accumulated inside the body and also relaxes the muscles.
Increased Energy Levels
You will find your energy levels spiking after a workout, if you have stretched your muscles properly. Once the body has completely cooled down, the brain receives signals to release endorphins, which are the body’s ‘feel good’ hormones. This makes you feel extremely energized and pepped up after a workout.
Make sure you incorporate some amount of breathing with yogic asanas in your stretching workout. This helps to harmonize and balance out the various chakras in the body. Breathing while stretching promotes mental calmness and equilibrium.
Increased Muscular Coordination
Another benefit of stretching is increased muscular coordination. The muscles are able to work in synchronization if you have been stretching your muscles properly. This will allow greater functional mobility of muscle groups especially if you are doing functional strength training.
Stretches Cools Down the Body Gradually
It is very important to gradually reduce your heart rate after an intense workout. This puts less strain on the heart muscle. Stretching helps you to do that. The body has a better chance of coming back to its normal equilibrium with gentle stretching than rushing out of the gym into the open air.
Your body also evaporates sweat and prevents the body from feeling overheated. All these myriad processes are able to occur with adequate stretching.
It Promotes Muscle Tone
Stretching is very important after an intense weight training session. It helps to reduce muscle soreness and fatigue. The muscles recover faster and are primed and pumped up for the next workout.
Over a period of time, your muscles look more supple, toned and slender. This changes your overall look and appearance also.
It Helps you to Unwind
Extremely strenuous exercise can be very exhausting and draining and can make you feel intensely fatigued. With the correct stretching exercises and breathing techniques, you can actually feel rested, calm and relaxed. You will also enjoy a more peaceful sleep at night, which is essential for muscle recovery and repair.
It Reduces Cramping
Excessive sweating and dehydration can make your muscles cramp horribly. By regularly sipping on water and stretching sore muscles, the chances of muscles cramping up are greatly reduced. A lot of this depends on the kind of stretches you incorporate in your workout schedule.
A number of athletes practice static stretching in between their workouts to reduce muscular nervousness and tension. This is especially true if you are engaged in lower body workouts where a large number of muscle groups are involved. There is a tendency of quads and hamstrings to tighten up especially if you are doing squats and lunges along with functional training for the arms.
Static stretches in such cases can come to your rescue and enable your muscles to perform better especially during compound movements. These are some of the benefits of post workout and mid workout stretches. This is one area of fitness, which has been greatly undermined by the media as well as fitness enthusiasts.
It is a topic, which has merited the least amount of attention, yet it remains a very crucial and important aspect of fitness. Make sure you include some light and basic stretching in all your workouts even if you are just jogging, running or cycling. This will improve your fitness and endurance levels.
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