Always in a rush to go home the minute, you’re done with your workout session? Learn why it’s essential to take time out for post-workout stretching at the end of every training session.
All of us know and understand the importance of a pre-workout warm-up for increased mobility. Post-workout stretching is equally crucial. No matter what kind of workout you do – be it heavy-weight training or intense cardio – it is essential that you wrap up the session by decompressing your body with some effective post-workout stretching. Why is it so important to take time out to ‘wind-down’ after your workout session? Read on to find out.
1. Reduce muscle soreness and stiffness
When you’re working out, you’re putting your muscles through a tremendous amount of stress, pushing them to do things they are not used to. This can strain and distort your muscle fibres, leaving you feeling sore and stiff after your workout and even more so the dreaded morning after.
Stretching after your workout helps reduce soreness by relaxing your muscles, which is all the more important if you’ve been contracting them repeatedly by lifting weights.
2. Reduce the risk of injury
Exercising involves contracting and releasing muscles. This makes your muscles gradually wear down and forces you to push harder with each rep to achieve the same result. Even after you’re done with your workout session, your muscles can remain constricted, preventing you from using them at their full capacity. And if you do push yourself beyond a point, you risk injuring your muscles from over-straining.
On the other hand, stretching your muscles after your workout will allow you a far greater range of motion in your daily life, as well as in following workout sessions. You will have an improved quality of life and better results from your workouts, as you will be able to use your muscles to their full capacity.
Moreover, the flexibility gained from stretching will help you prevent injuries, as your muscles will grow stronger and more mobile.
3. Improve blood circulation and prevent lactic acid build-up
Heavy exercises make the body pump blood faster to the heart and increase the heart rate. This leads to a build-up of lactic acid in your muscles, which is another cause of muscle fatigue and soreness.
Stretching allows the body to cool down and helps the heart to slowly recover its normal pace. As a result, the rapid release of lactic acid during an intense workout is counter-balanced with stretching. The body gradually returns to its regular rate of blood circulation and regains its normal resting rate, which allows the muscles to begin the process of the build, recover and repair.
4. Balance the release of endorphins
Exercising causes the release of ‘happy’ hormones, otherwise known as endorphins. These are released after your workout when the body starts cooling down, and leave you feeling energized and fresh. This process is a necessary one to accustom your body in to ‘asking’ for regular exercise. However, it is also important to regulate this process.
For this purpose, stretching is a useful way to slow down the ‘cooling-off’ process of your body. It allows you to feel the endorphin release and helps avoid a sudden drop in energy after the endorphin high.
5. Increase muscle flexibility
Exercising increases your body’s temperature, including that of your muscles. So when you stretch your muscles after a workout session, it helps to cool them down gradually and improve their flexibility.
With stretching, the constricted and contracted muscles are gradually eased to their more comfortable, normal state. This mediated process of cooling down your body helps prevent injuries and leaves the muscles feeling more supple and flexible.
In fact, consistent post-workout stretching helps increase overall flexibility. You will find it easier to bend, stand, squat and do a host of other flexibility related exercises, which would not have otherwise been possible.
So even if you’re feeling knackered after a difficult workout session, take some time out for post-workout stretching. Your body will thank you for it later! And if you’d like some additional guidance to up your form, go for an MSF Workout Plan. You’ll get a completely personalized, goal-oriented workout every week, with detailed notes, sets, reps and rest periods, and a complete mobility warm-up and post-workout stretching guide.