What happens to your body every time you don’t stretch after a workout
We all know it’s a post-workout sin to skip stretching after a workout. Here’s what happens to your body when you don’t stretch, plus how to do it properly to maximise your exercise results, according to F45 expert Dr Lee Wallace.
If we had a dollar every time we skipped cooling down after a workout, we’d have enough money to buy a lifetime supply of avocados while owning a house.
But did you know stretching is one of the most important steps of your workout routine?
Static and dynamic stretches are two of the main classifications when it comes to stretching. Static stretching is the classic form of stretching where you lengthen the muscle and soft tissue around a joint and hold that position for a certain period of time (e.g. forward fold). Dynamic stretching involves moving through a range of motion that stretches your tissues without having to hold any one position (e.g. leg swings).
If you ask different experts and trainers in the fitness industry about the benefits of stretching you will likely get mixed answers as to the usefulness of stretching as part of your training routine. Some will tell you that stretching decreases the risk of injury while others will warn you of the detrimental effects stretching may have on performance.
The truth is that stretching has an important place as part of a robust training program, however, it must be integrated carefully. There are seemingly endless ways to integrate stretching into your training routine. The most common being during a warm-up, cooldown or as a completely separate training session. Each offers unique benefits and has important considerations.
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How to stretch properly, according to an F45 expert
The purpose of the warm-up prior to training is to reduce the risk of injury and increase performance. In order to effectively provide these benefits, the warm-up has to induce a rise in body temperature. Literally warming the body up is the most important factor.
Dynamic stretching is beneficial in the warm-up as it improves mobility and also gets the muscles moving and full of blood which helps to increase temperature. Static stretching could also be included in a warm-up, however, it has been shown to decrease muscle performance when intense stretches are held for long periods of time (>60 sec). When warming up, opt for dynamic stretching for the positive effects on performance and injury reduction.
The cool-down involves gentle exercise after vigorous physical activity. Many people integrate stretching into a cool-down in an attempt to aid recovery and reduce muscle soreness.
Contrary to popular belief, stretching during a cool down has no effect on the occurrence of delayed onset muscle soreness.
However, once muscle soreness has developed, stretching may provide some transient relief.
Additionally, some types of stretches may provide some benefit in the reduction of muscle stiffness and increase joint range of motion. It is for this reason that stretching is a widely practiced cool-down activity.
The final way that stretching can be integrated into a training routine is via dedicated stretching or mobility sessions, which are performed in addition to other aerobic or resistance training sessions such as F45’s new Recovery workouts.
Adequate joint range of motion is important for athletic performance as well as functional activities of daily living.
Stretching sessions can help to provide psychological and physiological relaxation by reducing muscle tension and stiffness.
Stretching is a hot topic in the fitness industry as more and more people look for ways to optimise their performance and recovery. Overall, having adequate joint range of motion and mobility is essential for moving well and performing exercises with correct technique as well as staying injury free.
Dr Lee Wallace is the F45 Chief Sport Science Officer. For more health tips and tricks, head here.