So as this is the new year, many of you are journeying into a new workout regime. Before you jump into your workouts, remember to implement a proper warm up and cool down. This pre and post work includes the workouts you are in control of yourself (i.e. at the gym, hiking, marathon running, etc.) and your group fitness classes. Without stretching, muscles and connectives become tighter, which in turn may train neurological responses to believe this state of “tightness” is where your body should remain.
The importance of flexibility can sometimes be overshadowed by our inability to be flexible. What does that mean? Our lack of flexibility stops us from stretching because we have convinced ourselves that we are not flexible. Stretching helps to improve flexibility and increase range of motion. Flexibility affects performance as it helps the body to move more efficiently. There is also some evidence that concludes flexibility also decreases muscle soreness after workouts and helps in preventing injury. Tight hamstrings can increase stress on your the muscles surrounding your spine and in your lower back. Lastly, stretching also aids in improving posture and can consequently ease back pain.
Stretching is not only good for your muscles but it is also great at relieving tension and decreasing stress. It increases blood flow to your muscles, easing muscle tension and knots caused by stress.
So get your stretch on by adding in dynamic stretches before your workout and static stretches afterwords.
Dynamic stretching before your workouts helps to get your muscles warmed up, allowing for optimal activation. Pre-workout stretching tells your nervous system that it’s time to get moving and as a result, your core muscle groups (such as the glutes, back muscles and abs) will start working for you. Dynamic stretches should be performed using a full range of motion in an effort to increase the movement of the joints. These types of stretches increase your core temperature which can make it easier for your muscle to perform. Research has shown that dynamic stretches improve force production and explosive power. Performing these stretches can also help to increase body awareness, and help with stability and balance.
Static stretching mid and post workout will help lengthen and cool down the muscles. Performing static stretches does not raise your core temperature like dynamic stretching does. Instead, these types of stretches suppress the central nervous system, relaxing the muscle spindles by lengthening them. Static stretching allows you to focus on particular muscle groups, such as hip flexors and hamstrings, or other areas that may feel tight after working out.
Additionally, use of a foam roller also helps with increasing flexibility and provides light massage. Foam rolling can be performed before or after a workout.
I know making the time for stretching can be difficult, but neglecting this part of your workout can put you at risk for increased injury. Implementing a pre and post workout regime will help you to increase your performance in your workouts and shorten recovery time. In other words… IT’S A GAME CHANGER!
Hey, I know you can do it, you know you can do it, so get out there and like Nike says, JUST DO IT!
This weeks focus will be on post workout static stretching. Feel free to download the PDF of these stretches so you can have them with you for all post workout occasions.