Many people are aware of the benefits of starting their workout with some light warm-up exercises. Yet, they often neglect the equally crucial step of stretching after the exercise.
Some studies show that stretching can increase your range of motion, make you more flexible, improve your posture, and keep you from getting hurt by making your supporting tissues stronger.
Stretching exercises can be dynamic or static. Dynamic stretching is about moving your body parts and slowly stretching further or faster, while static stretching means stretching a muscle and holding that position for a while.
Research says that both these types of stretches can help you move more freely and become more flexible. However, they can affect your muscle strength in different ways. Ballistic stretching, a kind of dynamic stretch where you make bouncing movements, can make your muscles less strong.
Static stretching might also make your muscles less strong, but only if you do it for a long time (more than 60 seconds for each muscle group). The best time to stretch might be after you finish working out because your body is warmer, and it could be safer and work better to stretch then.
To make the most of your exercise session, it’s important to include these steps in your post-workout routine.
After working out, just like warming up, you also need to cool down. This helps bring your heartbeat back to a regular pace. You could do this by taking a short walk or jog lightly.
The key step after any workout is to stretch the muscles you’ve just used. It helps speed up your recovery time, reduces muscle pain and also strengthens the muscles. Plus, it helps make you more flexible.
Here are some examples of easy stretches to do after your workout:
- Sit in a chair and stretch your arms above your head, interlocking your fingers.
- Straighten your arms fully with palms facing the ceiling.
- Breathe out and stay in this position for 20 seconds.
- Put your legs in front of you as you sit on the floor.
- Try to reach your toes while keeping your back straight.
- Stay in this position for 15 seconds and do it 3 more times.
The Runner’s Stretch
- Move your right foot forward and bend into a lunge.
- Touch the floor with your fingers.
- Inhale, and as you straighten your right leg, exhale.
- Go back to the lunge slowly.
- Do this four times, then switch legs.
The Butterfly Stretch
- Sit on the floor with your knees pointing sideways.
- Bend your knees so your feet are touching each other.
- Hold your feet with your hands.
- Slowly bend your body towards your feet as far as you can comfortably.
- Stay in this position for 45 seconds and do it again.
- Sit with your feet stretched out ahead of you in a V shape.
- Keep a distance of three to four feet between your feet.
- Sit up straight and bend forward at your waist.
- Move your arms down your leg towards your ankles until you feel a stretch in the back of your legs.
- Stay in this position for 15 seconds and do it again.
You sweat a lot when you work out, so it’s important to drink plenty of water even after you’re done working out. This helps your muscles recover faster so you’re ready for your next workout.
You burn a lot of carbs and protein during your workout. So, it’s important to eat these nutrients after your workout to build stronger muscles and see results faster. For example, a protein shake is a great snack after a workout.
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