It is important to perform stretching after workouts for several reasons. Apart from improving flexibility, stretching promotes blood flow to the muscles and helps prevent injury. So, why should you stretch after exercising? Read on to discover the benefits of stretching. Aside from improving flexibility, stretching also reduces muscle soreness and prevents injuries. Listed below are the most important reasons to stretch after workouts. Continue reading to learn about the benefits of stretching after workouts.
Stretching improves flexibility
Everyone benefits from stretching after exercise, but not everyone is comfortable doing so. But a good rule of thumb is that you should stretch after each exercise at least once a day. Performing these stretches after exercise can prevent injuries and improve flexibility. If you are new to this routine, it’s best to begin with static stretches and gradually increase the length and intensity of each stretch until you feel comfortable. Try holding each stretch for ten seconds at a time and build up to longer stretches.
When stretching, keep your posture neutral and avoid bouncing, which can cause muscle tightness and injury. Hold each stretch for between 10 and 30 seconds, focusing on the area you’re stretching. Try to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds, though it can be longer for problem areas. Always remember to breathe normally as you stretch, and to back off if you feel any pain. If you feel a sharp pain, stop and immediately seek medical attention.
It reduces muscle soreness
There are a variety of studies on the effects of stretching after exercise on muscle soreness, injury risk, and athletic performance. We searched Medline, Embase, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus, and recursive bibliographies to identify the relevant studies. The results were consistent: stretching after exercise decreased muscle soreness by at least 0.9 mm on a 100-mm scale, with a 95% confidence interval of -2.6 to 4.4 mm. However, two studies of military recruits found that stretching had no practical impact on injury risk.
The findings of these studies were consistent. Stretching reduced muscle soreness in healthy men and women. Most of these studies included pre-exercise stretching. The duration of pre-exercise stretching varied from one study to the next, but the overall time spent stretching ranged from 300 to 600 seconds. One study even measured the total time in seconds. These studies combined data from 77 subjects. These results are presented in Figure 2.
It promotes blood flow
It is widely known that stretching after exercise helps improve circulation. However, the question is whether stretching is actually beneficial to the body. While some types of stretching increase blood flow to a muscle, others may actually decrease it. For example, a study published in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology found that passive stretching can decrease blood flow to the quadriceps and gastrocnemius, two muscles with heightened oxygen demand.
Exercising increases the blood flow in muscles because of the massive demand for oxygen, glucose, amino acids, and ATP. This in turn requires large amounts of waste materials to be removed from muscles. Lactic acid is metabolized by the liver and carried away. The increase in blood flow can only happen if the blood vessels dilate after exercise. The blood flow increases after exercise due to the need to transport lactic acid from the muscles.
It reduces risk of injury
Two studies have examined whether stretching after exercise helps prevent injuries. One involved 1284 subjects in 65 platoons, while the other involved 1346. They pooled the data to determine the risk of injuries across groups. The pooled estimate was 0.95, but this number was not statistically significant. Stretching is an important part of pre-participation and post-participation stretching regimens.
In addition to helping the body recover from physical activity, stretching helps reduce the risk of injury by improving flexibility and range of motion in joints. It is a ritual that’s not only recommended but also has cultural significance. While it may feel like stretching is part of a warmup, it is not. It’s a good idea to do a low-intensity warm-up before engaging in strenuous activity, but it’s not a proper warm-up.
The study also found that stretching after exercise does not confer protection against muscle soreness, nor does it appear to lower risk of injury. Further, the generality of these benefits needs to be tested. Moreover, there is not enough research on the effects of stretching on athletic performance. However, the studies did show that stretching reduces muscle soreness after exercise, although the effects were small. A pooled estimate of reduced muscle soreness 24 hours after exercise was 0.9 mm (on a 100 mm scale), which was within the 95% confidence interval of -2.6 mm to 4.4 mm. In contrast, two studies on army recruits found that stretching did not reduce injury risk.