Stretching is Extremely Important, Both Before AND After Workouts

Did You Know Stretching Both Before and After Workouts Could Help Decrease the Risk of Injury?

Do you make time to go to the gym a few times per week? If so, you should commend yourself for your efforts.

But at our physiotherapy clinic, we notice an interesting trend with a lot of our active patients: they go to the gym regularly, but they largely neglect stretching and mobility work.

We’re not sure why this is so common—maybe because stretching doesn’t seem as “exciting” as an actual workout.

But proper stretching before and after exercise has many proven health benefits and can improve your workout, too!

Talk to a physiotherapist today about which types of stretching you should focus on and find out which areas on your body have a limited range of motion and flexibility.

In the meantime, keep reading to learn why stretching is so great for your body and mind.

Stretching and physiotherapy

There is a reason why stretching is a staple of physiotherapy. The act of stretching can do wonders for your health. In fact, according to Physiopedia,

“Stretching exercises have traditionally been included as part of a training and recovery program.

Evidence shows that physical performance in terms of maximal strength, number of repetitions and total volume are all affected differently by the each form of stretching – static stretch (SS), dynamic stretch (DS) and Pre-contraction stretching, Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation stretching (PNFS) being the most common type.

Stretching can help improve flexibility and range of motion about your joints. Improved flexibility may: Improve your performance in physical activities; Decrease your risk of injuries; Help your joints move through their full range of motion; Enable your muscles to work most effectively.”

Stretching provides numerous benefits to help your body keep itself healthier. One of the most important of these is stress relief. Everyday life throws lots of challenges at you, and the resulting stress can be held in your muscles.

This leads to tightness, spasms, and chronic discomforts such as headaches and neck pain. Stress also floods your body with “fight or flight” hormones such as cortisone and adrenaline. These imbalances can suppress your immune function, making you more vulnerable to viruses and other diseases. Hypertension is yet another dangerous consequence of chronic stress.

Regular stretches help your body release all that pent-up stress. By relaxing and loosening your muscles, you can maintain better control over your blood pressure, avoid chronic muscle pain, and keep your immune system ready for anything.

What can stretching before and after workouts offer?

1. Preparing for exercise ahead of time.

Dynamic stretching before a workout can help your muscles, ligaments, tendons, joint capsules, and other tissues become loosened up and prepared for exercise.

Pre-workout mobility also increases core body temperature and stimulates increased blood flow throughout the body so your tissues will have adequate amounts of oxygen to work.

Meanwhile, stretching after a workout helps you cool down appropriately and reduce tissue tightness and pain.

2. Working out better!

A personalized stretching routine that addresses your specific areas of postural imbalances and tightness can help you improve your range of motion.

When you combine this with strength training and aerobic conditioning, you can expect to function more efficiently during your workouts and enjoy greater stamina, power, and speed.

Since pre-workout mobility also prepares your body for exercise, it’ll also help you safely reach your desired workout intensity more quickly since you’ll be able to start a workout already warmed up and ready to go.

3. Relieving stress.

Stretching regularly—especially when combined with deep breathing and mindfulness exercises—is a great way to ease mental stress and even reduce signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety.

4. Reducing injury risk.

Some studies do show that stretching may reduce your risk of muscle strains, ligament sprains, joint damage, and other painful injuries common with sports and athletics.

5. Enhancing your health.

Regular stretching has been shown to improve your blood pressure and heart rate as well as maximize your overall mobility, especially as you age.

The importance of warm-ups

You may have heard that stretching “cold” muscles isn’t ideal—which is true. Our bodies need to be adequately warmed up prior to stretching—otherwise we increase our risk for injury and tissue damage.

This doesn’t mean you should never stretch at all before a workout, however. A simple 5-minute warm-up such as light jogging, brisk walking, and arm circles and leg swings is usually sufficient to get your joints and tissues warmed up and prepared for mobility work.

For many folks, dynamic stretches are the most effective for pre-workout mobility. Meanwhile, they’ll save static stretches and foam rolling for after the workout. Wondering what works best for you?

Our physiotherapy staff is happy to help you problem-solve and figure out the best routine for your body.

Want more help? We’ve got you covered!

If you’d like to become more disciplined with a mobility routine and need some inspiration and education on the best mobility moves your body needs, schedule an appointment with a physiotherapist today.

Sources:

Get Moving at Home! Tips for Achieving a Full-Body Workout During Quarantine

Just because you’re in the confines of your home during this time, it doesn’t mean you can’t still achieve a full-body workout. Yes, it is true that gyms, workout classes, intramural leagues, and the like are closed/postponed for the time being – but it is still important to remain active and get your whole body moving as often as you can.

While, like many of us, you may not have a home gym or the resources that a fully functioning brick-and-mortar gym may have, there is still plenty you can do at home – you just have to know the right exercises! For a full-body workout that will leave you feeling as if you just had your normal session at the gym or your workout class of choice, follow the exercises below.

5 full-body exercises to feel the burn at home:

  1. Dumbbell Wood Chops. Looking for exercises to do with your dumbbell at home? Dumbbell Wood Chops are a great full-body exercise to get you moving. Begin by holding the dumbbell with both hands above one side of your head. Swing the dumbbell in a controlled motion diagonally down across your body, toward your opposite hip. Use the power from your hip rotation to make this swinging motion. By engaging your back, shoulder, legs, and abdominal muscles, you can feel good knowing that you’re getting the full workout you’re looking for! 

Here is a video for your reference: https://vimeo.com/380487900/01e9d5eb56 

  1. Running Man. Are you an avid runner or cycler? When quarantined at home, it can seem disheartening when unable to go outdoors and do the activities you enjoy. Exercises like the Running Man can simulate the feeling of those activities by focusing on the same muscles. Begin by lifting your right leg so that it is parallel to the floor. Bend your arms into proper running positions, with right arm bent in front of your torso and your left arm bent behind your torso. In one motion, extend your right leg so that it is behind you and lean forward with your torso, extending your right arm in front of you and your left arm behind you.

Here is a video for your reference: https://vimeo.com/266320240/e24492ba6e 

  1. Split Stance Side Plank with Arm Raise. Planks are always a good choice for working out at home, since they are easy to do and great at targeting several muscles at once. With these planks, you’ll be taking your home workouts to the next level! For the Split Stance Side Plank with Arm Raise, begin by lying on one side of your body, propping yourself up with your bent arm on that side. Lift your hips so you are in a side plank position, and lift your opposite arm to the sky. Hold this position for 30 seconds or until you begin to feel tired. Repeat these steps on the opposite side.

Here is a video for your reference: https://vimeo.com/365312407/f94fc2ebb9 

  1. Dynamic Hamstring Warm Up. It is important to stretch those hamstrings while you’re stuck at home to prevent them from becoming tight! This exercise will help you do just that. Begin standing up straight. Bend your right knee, and extend your left leg out in front of you so the heel of your foot is to the floor and your toes are to the sky. Bend your torso over your outstretched leg in a 90 degree angle, feeling the stretch in your left hamstring. Repeat these steps on the opposite side, making sure to alternate between each of your legs to get a good stretch on both sides.

Here is a video for your reference: https://vimeo.com/359766215/7c4c1251d0 

  1. Dynamic Hip Flexor Warm Up Straight. This exercise is great for getting your body all stretched out either before or after a workout. It is easy to do and targets several muscles in your body! With this one, you will also begin by standing up straight. Place one foot in front of you in a slight lunge position and reach your arms to the sky. Arch your back and look up to feel the stretch in your back, shoulders, and neck. Repeat these steps on the opposite leg. This exercise is also very helpful to do whenever you are feeling tight or achy in your back, neck, or upper extremities!

Here is a video for your reference: https://vimeo.com/359766170/4aa490e69d 

Questions?

As always, if you have any questions about these workouts or if you’d like to inquire about additional advice to get moving from the comfort and safety of your own home, don’t hesitate to call or message us. We are still here to help you reach your physical goals!

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