We’ve heard the phrase “no pain, no gain” before, Right? We often use this famous phrase to gauge the effectiveness of our workouts, but it’s very possible that gauge you are trying so hard for, could hinder your ability to reach your fitness goals. My goal is to not have my clients experience pain post work out and it all comes down to proper stretching.
In lieu of the New Year and all those resolutions to lose weight and get fit, I thought I’d start the year off with a word on the importance of stretching and conditioning the body properly so as to avoid injury and time lost working towards those new goals.
I cannot stress the importance of warm-up stretching enough, some think that stretching alone is enough to get benefits, but it is the warm up which includes that dynamic stretching where the benefit is received. Start off with 6-12 minutes of cardio warm up at moderate intensity, it can be jump rope, a machine of your choice-whatever your preference is. Then do your dynamic stretching before you get into your workout. Dynamic stretching is short-burst stretching on each body part.
In most cases, after each exercise you perform for each body part throughout your workout you want to do a quick dynamic stretch for that body part. After your workout you’ll do a warm up/cool down stretch-I call it this because you are actually warming up the muscles again in order for you to stretch, and then cooling down, you doing this with either developmental stretching or PNF stretching, which I go more into detail here.
Stretching properly helps condition the muscles and joints, thus helping to prevent injuries and reduce recovery time. Stretching also increases the blood flow to your muscles, thus improving your circulation, improves range of motion helping with balance and coordination preventing falls, relieves stress held in the muscles also helping to reduce recovery time from a work out. Stretching increases endurance, metabolism, length in the muscles, power and elasticity of your muscles not to mention assist in achieving better coordination, muscle control and proper technique in sports, Enabling your body to perform more with less energy, oh and let’s not forget increases flexibility.
Try to enjoy it, and realize that the stretching is just as crucial to you as your work out, and will actually enhance your work out and keep you going to the gym on a more regular basis, helping you to reach major milestones that you didn't think were possible.