We have all been there, you just poured your heart into that workout and now all you want to do is get in that shower or head to food counter for a nice post workout snack. On the way to the lockers you walk past the mats and see people stretching, you know its the right thing to do but you keep walking thinking next time I’ll stretch, next time. I always tell my patients that not stretching after a workout is very similar to eating a snickers bar right after. You don’t want all your hard work to backfired by not taking the extra 5-10mins to stretch. We all know stretching reduces risk of injury, but there is more to it than that.
Reduces risk for pain and injury.
When the muscles are tight and constricted they are easier to tear or injure. Take the analogy of a rubber band; a tight rubber band that has not been stretched out will snap quickly under stress, but a band that has been stretched will have more give when put under stress.
Promotes the long and lean muscles
When you are working out, your muscles contract and by the end are left tight and shortened. Stretching makes sure the muscles stay long and lean.
Improves balance and posture
Stretching improves posture by returning the muscles to their original state. It is important to stretch the whole body, not just where you worked out. When part of your body is tight it will through off the balance of the rest of the body. Say if your hamstrings are stiff, your back will compensate for this which may cause pain in the back.
Helps reduce risk of DOMS
Delayed onset muscle syndrome is the soreness you feel 24-72hours after working out and generally lasts for 2-3 days. It is thought that the type of exercise and intensity that is performed is the determining factor in whether will develop DOMS.
Helps remove toxins from the body
Muscles accumulate toxins over time. Stretching helps to flush those toxins out of the muscles and into the bloodstream to be removed from the body. Drinking plenty of water aids this process. It is important to note that while lactic acid is the result of strenuous exercise it is not really the cause of soreness as was once thought. The soreness we experience after working out it is due to the microscopic muscle fiber tears and lack of stretchering. However toxins in the muscle in addition to these tears can increase inflammatory effects, so it is beneficial to remove them from the body.
Promotes agility and better performance
Stretching improves range of motion, which will allow for better performance. Muscles that are tight we have a harder time climbing those mud run fences and dunking those basketballs.
Promotes blood flow to the muscles
Have you ever noticed that after sitting in one place for a while you start to feel tight. Muscles that are not being moved do not use as much blood. Taking a moment to stretch out these muscles and increase the blood flow will immediately create a feeling of improved movement and stamina.