Stretching is actually one of the most important components of your workout, and you need to stretch both before and after, for a variety of reasons.
The American College of Sports Medicine, or ACSM, recommends stretching each of your major muscle groups for 60 seconds. They note that regular flexibility exercises can help you maintain proper range of movement. Below, we’ll discuss the importance of pre and post-workout stretches.
Why should I stretch before a workout?
Pre-workout stretches should ideally be dynamic. This means that you will do stretches that perhaps mimic things you will do during the workout, but at a much lower intensity. For example, on a leg workout day, you might do some shallow walking lunges or leg swings, to get the lower body warmed up.
Ballistic stretches use a repetitive bouncing motion to help induce a stretch. These are sometimes also called active stretches.
Always remember, though, that you should warm up for a few minutes with some type light aerobic activity before beginning any stretches. You may want to jog in place or just march first, this helps to get the body ready. This ballistic stretching will help warm up the muscles.
If you do static stretching while the body is still cold (static stretching is any stretch that holds the muscle in place for a longer period of time) you can do damage to the body.
This will also keep you from injuring yourself during your workout. Think of the muscle as a rubber band. If you freeze a rubber band and then try to stretch it, it will pop. Stretching a cold muscle might not actually pop it, but it can injure that muscle. Make sure to warm up a bit and then begin your stretching or yoga.
Why should I stretch after a workout?
When you stretch after a workout, you will do static stretches. Your body is warm now, and you can hold your stretches longer, for anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds.
After a workout, stretching the muscles will help to lengthen those that have been shortened during exercise.
You are much more flexible after you exercise because circulation to in the body has increased, and blood has been sent to your muscles.
If you neglect these stretches, your body will tighten up and you will feel a great deal of soreness the next day, and possibly even for two days after your workout.
What are the benefits of stretching?
You can stretch anytime, but remember if you have not worked out, it is important to ease into stretching gradually. Stretching your muscles actually should be part of your regular workout regimen, as flexibility is important, especially as we age.
Yoga classes are wonderful ways to stretch the body at any time.
Stretching and flexibility can actually aid in muscle building and weight loss. Flexibility helps you increase the body's ability to build muscle mass. When your muscles are more flexible, you can lift more weight. It also helps the muscles recover more quickly and helps make the muscles work much more effectively.
Muscle growth and the subsequent fat and weight loss happens only when you stretch the muscles.
Who can show me some good stretches?
For more questions, or to have personal trainer Ralph Roberts design a workout plan that is right for you, contact him today. Ralph Roberts is a certified personal trainer with the Downtown Athletic Club in Amarillo, Texas and has years of experience in athletics. He can design a workout routine just for your fitness level, schedule and health needs.
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