After an intense workout it’s easy to re-rack the weights and head straight for the shower, but by skipping the stretching stage of your workout you’ll likely be missing out on some serious benefits. Continue reading to discover the Top 5 Reasons You Should Stretch after a Workout!
1. Muscle growth
Stretching the muscles you’ve worked so hard on during your gym session has the potential to increase in mass by 318% over a 28 day period. We’re not talking about a few seconds either, really take your time (10-20 mins), it’s worth it. The idea is to stretch your fascia, the layer surrounding your muscles, and lengthen it. The fascia not only protects your muscle fibres but also restricts them. Stretching it essentially creates more room for your muscles to grow.
2. Stretch for strength
With increased muscle growth comes increased strength; another reason to take to the mat after your sweaty session. The functionality gained from stretching also enhances the mechanical efficiency of your muscles, meaning that you will require less energy when exerting yourself and can perform more repetitions with more weight, and feel your mind get more connected and engaged in the process.
Whenever you lift weights your muscles contract and tighten where they remain until they recover – this is why it hurts so much to stretch when you’re in the DOMS state. After giving your ‘mirror muscles’ a pounding, you walk away without addressing the damage it could be doing in the long run to restrict your movement. Stretching your recently worked muscles (straight after a workout or the day after) can help to relieve the tightness and help restore a full range of motion so you’ll be ready to lift more next time. While it may not sound like rocket science, done properly it’ll make you feel both capable and amazing!
Regular stretching can help with maintaining healthier back muscles, maintaining your natural ‘S’ spinal curvature and a good confident posture. Tight muscles in your lower back and hamstrings can have a significant effect on your entire back, whether it’s posture-related or if you’re experiencing pain.
5. Blood circulation
Stretching your muscles also helps to increase the blood flow to them, which not only quickens recovery and reduces your post-workout soreness due to lactic acid buildup but also improves your overall health. Greater blood circulation helps promote cell growth, organ function and will also lower your heart rate because it won’t have to work as hard to pump blood around your body.
With this information firmly implanted in your mind stretching should take much more of a priority in your weekly exercise routine. Whether you do it straight after your session or would rather stretch in the comfort of your own home, either will be fine to ensure you experience these benefits. Already a stretcher, how has it helped you, what tips would you like to share? Let us know below, join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. (Why not check out our articles on stretching and fitness equipment reviews?)