There is nothing more gratifying than a nice cool down and stretch after an intense workout session. Not only does cooling down allow your body to slowly decrease heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, which in turn prevents blood pooling and the possibility of fainting, but it also is a great mental break for you before you continue on with your day.
After the cool down is the next crucial part to your workout that day, post exercise stretching. However, so many people skip out on this important step after their workout. You know the ones that sneak out of class early when the instructor starts to take you through the stretches, I have even seen some instructors not provide a post-workout led stretch routine(don’t even get me started on that.) With my clients I always leave at least 10 minutes at the end of their sessions to do a personalized stretching regimen with them. It allows us time to reflect on what they accomplished that day, we discuss what they will do before they see me again, and what our next workout will entail. My clients absolutely love this part the most out of the entire session, most of them confessed that before they met me, they never took the time to stretch, shame, shame.
So why is stretching so crucial post workout?
Let me first address this by stating the benefits of including a daily stretching routine:
1) Improves posture, especially for the 9-5 office workers.
2) Increases blood flow, which decreases blood pressure
3) Increases range of motion around a joint, allowing for greater efficiency and a better workout.
4) Decreases low back pain
5) Helps prevent next day muscle soreness after a workout
Let’s next address what happens to your body’s muscles during a workout and why post stretch is oh so important. During a workout your muscles contract and release over and over again, creating tension. After the workout is over and you have “cooled down” your muscle tissues are still warm, which is THE perfect time for you to get an adequate stretch in. Muscles are the easy to stretch when they are warm (that’s why hot yoga is so popular.) Stretching places “stress” on your body and in essence breaks down your connective tissue. This is why you don’t want to stretch prior to a workout. Cold muscles are like taffy, they break when they are cold and pulled on, but stretch nicely when warm. Your body’s muscles and ligaments operate the same way. Also like I said before stretching causes microscopic tears in your muscles and places “stress” on them so they can elongate. Placing that kind of stress on your body than expecting it to lift heavy weights or go on a 8 mile run is asking a lot of your body. Hence, why enlisting an exercise routine post workout is essential. It will help improve your posture and range of motion making you a better athlete, and make you look better overall.