You always follow your pre-session warm up routine at the gym because you know that skipping a warm up can increase your risk of muscle injury. But once you are done with your session, you are exhausted and all you want to do is flop down on a mat and catch your breath. The last thing on your mind at this point is more exercise! Unfortunately, that’s exactly what you need at this point because although warming up is important, stretching after a workout is just as important. Here’s why you should include a cool-down stretching routine in your gym sessions.
Importance Of Stretching After Exercise
1. To Get Rid Of Excess Lactic Acid In Your Muscles
We associate lactic acid with dairy products and healthy foods, but lactic acid in your belly is good… in your muscles, not so much! When you exercise, lactic acid builds up within your muscles; this is a by-product of the metabolic processes within your body and it does not improve performance. On the contrary, lactic acid build-up in the muscles can cause fatigue and post-exercise muscle soreness. Cool down exercises, especially stretching exercises will help to increase the blood flow to your muscles without increasing lactic acid levels. The lactic acid in your blood is then absorbed by your kidneys so that it can be expelled from your body. Lactic acid is water soluble, so drink a small amount of water just before you start your cool down session.
2. To Reduce Muscle Fatigue And Injury
Vigorous exercise routines are very taxing on the body, which is why your limbs feel heavy and lifeless after your workout. Your muscles are still warm after your exercise routine and so stretching at this point will help your muscles recover faster. Most people skip their post-workout stretching routine because their muscles are sore. However, stretching after a workout is important as it will decrease the severity of muscle fatigue and it will also decrease the risk of future injury during your next workout.
3. To Relieve Muscle Strain
You might believe that the best thing for a muscle strain is complete inactivity, but you would be wrong. Doctors say that unless you have suffered a serious muscle sprain, mild stretching exercises can help to prevent stiffness. A stretching exercises routine after a workout will help to ease mild muscle strains, so that any pain or discomfort is drastically decreased, which means that you will not have to skip your workout the next day. When stretching after a workout, if you have muscle soreness in a certain area, do not focus on that specific muscle group. This is because the cause of the muscle soreness in one area could be a strained muscle in a separate area – for instance, if your inner hip muscles are tight, you might experience lower back pain. Make sure that your post work out cool down routine includes basic stretching exercises, specifically basic stretching exercises and leg stretching exercises. If you sustain a severe muscle strain during your gym session where there is either intense pain or swelling, stop your routine at once and visit your doctor.
4. To Increase Muscle Strength And Flexibility
Stretching on a regular basis helps to increase the flexibility and strength of the muscles, which is why people who stretch on a regular basis, such as yoga practitioners, are able to bend themselves like pretzels! Stretching also changes muscle shape and structure which is why it improves both short-term as well as long-term flexibility and muscle strength levels. While your hour at the gym can help to form and tone your muscles, your post gym cool down program will help to increase muscle strength and flexibility.
5. To Reduce Stress And Calm Your Mind
Pushing yourself to your limits during your gym session but without over-reaching can be quite stressful – both physically and mentally. Stretching exercises at the end of your session will help you de-stress, as these are gentle exercises that do not require a lot of effort, but will help to strengthen your mind-body connection. Stretching exercises, especially yoga poses such as Halasana (Plow Pose), Balasana (Child’s Pose), and the Virabhadrasana (Warrior) poses will calm your nerves and relax your mind which in turn will help to increase your focus and concentration during the rest of your day.
There are various types of stretches – that are classified into static, dynamic, and pre-contraction stretches, depending on the required movement of muscles during the stretch. Several studies show that individuals have varying responses to these different types of stretching, which is why it is best to have a personalized stretching program. Speak to your gym instructor or a physical fitness coach to get the best stretching exercises routine that suits your body and your requirements.
We’re creating some really cool, original health content for you – Check us out on Facebook by clicking here!