We all hear about the importance of stretching, but you may be wondering what the actual benefits of stretching after a workout are. Let’s go on to discover 5 benefits of stretching, as well as discuss whether you should stretch after a workout and some examples of effective stretches.
One of the most well known benefits of stretching is that it greatly improves flexibility. This makes daily movements easier and can also improve your exercise form.
Tight muscles have a greater risk of injury and can cause you to compensate in other areas of your body. So it is important to warm up before a workout and get some stretches in. This gets your body moving and your muscles ready for what is to come. Working out with cold tight muscles is uncomfortable and also risky, and so is not doing some type of stretching after a workout.
When your muscles are tight, it creates tension in your body. Imagine when you sit at a computer and you haven’t gotten proper movement in, then you roll your shoulders and get a neck stretch in. That shoulder and neck stretch release tension and let your body relax. Stretching after a workout does the same thing, and especially after high impact muscles and workouts where you push your body whether for conditioning or strength, encouraging your body to relax and let go of any residual tension feels great.
At some point or another, everyone has experienced muscle soreness. Perhaps it was after strength training, a run, hike or walk, and the soreness stuck around for a couple of days. After an intense workout, however, you should go easy on the stretching as it can enlarge tiny tears in your muscle fibers. Day-after stretching is encouraged!
When your muscles are tight, this often results in letting your posture slip. For example, if you do an intense upper body workout and not properly stretch, the next day you very well could feel stiff and compensate by rounding your shoulders and sliding your head forward rather than keeping them back. In the long-term, this could also create poor posture habits that are harder to correct. When you stretch, this gives you the comfort and flexibility to carry your body with proper posture.
There is a lot of information and controversy out there on whether stretching is good or bad for you after a workout. The rule of thumb to reference is that the harder the workout you do, the easier you should go on the stretching. While a cool down and light stretching is beneficial, you don’t want to push your muscles too much after intensely calling on them to work.
If you do focused stretching in a controlled setting, such as in yoga, you can greatly benefit from working your muscles. Many find it helpful to alternate days that you do vigorous exercise and when you do stretch-and-flexibility focused days.
Muscles involved: Neck, Shoulders, Spine, Abdominals, Chest
Read also: The Best Hip Flexor Stretches for Tight Hips
While there are many health benefits of stretching, one of the best benefits is that you feel comfortable and confident in your body. A body that is flexible and can fluidly go with movements is a lot more comfortable rather than a body that is stiff and uncomfortable your body in times of normal or jarring movements.
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