Stretching makes up an important part of an exercise routine. However, not all people stretch before exercise, so you may be wondering if stretching is important. Here’s the reasons why it’s important to stretch before and after a workout.
When it comes to pre-workout stretching, stretching before a workout helps your body to become more pliable, which decreases your risk for injury. You want to stretch the main muscle groups that you plan on working during that exercise session. For example, if you’re going to be running, or doing lower body strength exercises, you probably want to stretch your hamstrings, quads, glutes, and calves.
You’d want to do these leg stretches standing, and holding each position for about 10 seconds. You want to keep your heart rate elevated to around the same level – slightly elevated, so that you’re pushing more blood into your muscles during your streching program.
If you’re pressed for time, it may be beneficial to skip the pre-workout stretches, especially if you’re already in good shape. You should do warm up exercises, though, to still get some blood flow going to your targeted muscle groups, as this along with any stretching that is part of your warm up, can help loosen muscles prior to your main workout session.
Post stretches or maintenance stretches are just as or if not more important than stretching prior to your workout, after your warm up. The main muscles groups used during the session are the ones that need to stretch. Post workout stretches are great for helping your body to move excess lactic acid out of your muscles, which can help you avoid post workout soreness. Post workout stretches also help get the muscle back to their original length.
A maintenance stretch is usually held for between 10-15 seconds.
Reasons for Stretching:
- Reduce muscle tension, and increase relaxation
- Increase your range of motion
- Avoid muscle strains
- Avoid joint strains
- Reduce the risk of back problems
- Prepare your body for strenuous exercise
- Improve circulation
- >Reduce muscular soreness
Reasons to avoid Stretching:
- If you’ve had a recent bone fracture, sprain or strain
- If you suffer from any limited range-of-motion issues
- If you’re suffering from any joint or bone infection or inflammation
- If you suffer from osteoporosis