Most people understand the importance of stretching before you work out, but what about afterward? Stretching after exercise is just as important as stretching before it.
Stretching after an exercise session helps your body recover in a number of ways. Here are some of the benefits that can be gained from a good stretch after exercising:
- It helps to flush lactic acid from your muscles. Lactic acid is a natural byproduct of exercise and its presence can cause soreness and delayed muscle recovery.
- It also increases blood flow to your muscles which helps to remove waste materials such as carbon dioxide, lactate, and water. By increasing blood flow, you also speed up the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles which helps them to recover faster.
- It can also help in preventing injuries. If you don’t stretch after you’ve exercised, your muscles might not be able to return back to their normal length which can cause injuries when they are overstretched during other activities.
- You’ll also find that it improves your range of motion which will make it easier for you to perform everyday activities without feeling stiffness or pain.
- The release of endorphins is another major benefit of stretching. Endorphins are chemicals that block pain and give you a sense of well-being. They act as natural painkillers and help to relieve stress. When you stretch, the brain is stimulated, which releases endorphins into the bloodstream.
Here are some stretches that you can do after working out:
- Tennis elbow – Stand with your right arm straight out in front of you. Grasp your wrist with your left hand and gently pull forward and down until you feel a slight pull in the muscles on the back of your forearm. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat two or three times with each arm.
- Stretches for shoulders – Stand upright, feet together and knees slightly bent. Raise your left arm out to the side as far as it will go without moving your upper arm or shoulder blade. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat with your right arm.
- Calf stretch – Stand about three feet from a wall, facing away from it. Place both hands on the wall at about shoulder height. Step back with one foot so that that foot is flat on the floor and place its heel next to the other foot (heels touching). Keep your back straight while keeping both heels on the floor. Bend both knees slightly so that you feel a slight pull behind you in the calf of both legs. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds then repeat with the other leg.