Stretching may not produce a chiseled physique, but its benefits are long-lasting when done correctly. To understand how these slow movements affect the body — and avoid injuries in your fitness routine — let’s explore the benefits of stretching before and after a workout from the perspective of a Raleigh physical therapist.
Physical Therapy in Raleigh: Stretching Tips
Stretching is a form of physical exercise where tension is released from joints, muscles, and tendons to promote flexibility and improve the body’s range of motion. Every workout should begin and end with a series of stretches as these slow movements alleviate sore muscles and reduce the risk of injury.
When stretching isn’t completed as part of the regular exercise regime, muscles tighten and weaken, and there is an increased risk of muscle damage, strain, and joint pain.
Types of Stretches
Active Stretching. This type of stretch increases flexibility using movement rather than simply holding a position. It is done before, during, and after workouts. Examples of active stretches are lunges, jumping jacks, and arm circles.
Dynamic Stretching. Movement-based stretches where no position is held and joints and muscles go through a full range of motion. This type of stretching is done before and during workouts. Examples of dynamic stretches are straight leg kick, high knee raise, and buttocks kick.
Passive Stretching. Here the body is relaxed while an outside force — whether a person, equipment, or gravity — facilitates the stretch. This type of stretching is done after workouts. Examples of passive stretching are side stretches, child’s pose, and butterfly.
Static Stretching. Controlled movements where the body holds a position for 30-60 seconds and remains still to prepare muscles for exercise. This type of stretching is done before workouts. An example of this type of stretch is head to knee standing stretch.
The Benefits of Stretching
While protecting joints and preventing injury are obvious stretching benefits, some not-so-common benefits include:
Improves Workout Performance. Stretching before a workout provides oxygen for the body and revitalizes circulation to the muscles, reducing fatigue and boosting energy levels. Moreover, a boost in energy can increase concentration and make one feel inspired to finish a workout.
Reduces Lactic Acid Buildup. When there’s not enough oxygen in muscles to break down blood sugar glucose during intense workouts, lactic acid builds up, and muscle fatigue can compromise one’s exercise performance. However, stretching provides relief as it relaxes the muscles and dissolves lactic acid from the body.
Improves Circulation. Post-workout or cool-down stretches improve blood circulation as the muscles can relax and receive immediate oxygen repair. This also reduces recovery time between workouts and gradually reduces heart rate, giving the mind and body a relaxing break after exercise.
Regular exercise has been proven to contribute to the health and well-being of individuals. When creating an exercise plan, don’t forget to include stretching exercises before, during, and after a workout. Reducing pain and injury will allow you to execute your program consistently.
Moriarty Physical Therapy
Do you know how to stretch properly? Have you sustained an injury while exercising? Moriarty Physical Therapy can help. Our therapists can evaluate your fitness level and create a plan that incorporates stretching in every step of your fitness routine to achieve greater flexibility and range of motion. So, make an appointment for physical therapy in Raleigh by calling 919-364-4000.