Now we are into the New Year, people suddenly decide to take up exercise whether that is going to the gym, classes or after a drunken new year’s eve bet to run a marathon or other such event.
If we also add in all the tight shoulders and tight lower back issues that a lot of us have these days then you will see why it can benefit us. Most people are aware that they should stretch but not really the reasoning behind it so I thought I would look at it a bit more. This blog will look at working out and then I will follow with one about work stretching.
Stretching after exercise is a very highly recommended practice with tutors and personal trainers advocating it in classes and when training clients because when you stretch your muscles, you are benefiting from physiological and psychological effects.
The physical benefits being, that when you work out lactic acid builds up in your muscles often leading to muscle soreness and fatigue. When you stretch your muscles are warm and with increased blood circulation you can stretch them easily and without pain. This in turn helps your muscles to recover faster and prevents them tightening up so much. In the past we used to hear about DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and how good it was because pain means gain but actually they now think that DOMS are actually micro tears in the muscle from overdoing it. Meaning that you should rest and give the muscle time to repair its self instead of going back too quickly and risk a further injury. Stretching time of thirty seconds or longer in each stretch gives your body time to relax and get ready for the walk back to the shower, also decreasing the likelihood of you falling down the stairs as your legs have turned to jelly as mine did a few times after a very hard work out from my personal trainer. lastly stretching In conjunction with regular massage can be a very powerful tool to help you achieve your fitness goals and keep your body healthy all of the time.
Psychologically when you are stretching, your mind will have a chance to not just reflect on what you have just completed but also connect to your body through breathing through each stretch and pay attention to any aches and pains in your body perhaps noting that you may like a massage as well. It is also important for stress relief, which calms the nerves and relaxes your mind.
I will end with a few tips for safe stretches.
Tips for stretching
- Remember go slowly into the stretch and breathe through it; take to the biting point like the clutch in your car.
- Stretching should Not be painful, if it is then you are pushing your body too far…remember pain is the body letting us know that something is wrong.
- Hold each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds but preferably longer.
- No bouncing stretches, that is for the warm up.
- Lastly, do it often. It will become a habit and your body will thank you for it.