Crucial Stretches for Post-Workout Recovery
Part of healthy aging revolves around maintaining strength levels. Suffice it to say, that parameter alone is often overlooked. However, stretching after workouts is another aspect of fitness that also tends to get no attention.
If you are a little unsure on where to begin or how to go about it, here is a good tutorial for you to follow. Much like getting into the habit of pressing weights, you can do the same with stretching. It might be a little arduous at first. But once you get into a rhythm, you’ll be A-OK.
Importance of Post-workout Stretching
During a typical weight training workout, your muscles go through a series of exercises that involve repetitive contractions. This might lead to gains in size and strength, but at a cost.
Simply put, if you were to just walk away from these training sessions every day, tension can linger in your muscles. This can lead to stiffness, extended soreness, and the risk of getting injured in your next workout.
All of this amounts to bad news if you want to be balanced with your physique and functional ability.
By stretching after each training session, you elongate your muscles, and bring more oxygen-rich blood flow to your entire connective tissue. This, in turn, makes you more flexible, mobile and injury-resistant.
The Mayo Clinic1 also sites stress relief, improved posture and better range of motion as further benefits of stretching. So as you can clearly see, the importance of this modality cannot be overstated.
What Kind of Stretching Should you Do?
This really depends on what muscle groups you work. For example, if you just do upper body, there is no need to do lower body stretches (although technically, you can always benefit from doing stretches for all of your major muscle groups).
But for the sake of a workout, the most important thing is to stretch the muscles that you trained—be it the upper body, lower body or both.
That being said, here are a few stretches that target the upper and lower body, just so you get an idea of what direction to go.
1. Chest Stretch
Place your right arm on the inside of a door jam, stub wall or vertical column with your elbow bent 90 degrees. Keep your body straight as you twist toward your left and lean slightly forward.
Once you feel a good stretch in your chest, hold for at least 30 seconds and switch sides.
2. Triceps Stretch
Raise your right arm straight above your head with your palm facing forward and biceps by your ear. Bend your elbow and move your hand down to the middle of your back as far as possible and place your hand flat between your shoulders.
Grasp your right elbow with your left hand and gently pull inward and push slightly down until you feel a nice stretch in your triceps. Hold for at least 30 seconds and switch sides.
3. Quadriceps Stretch
Grab ahold of a stationary object with your left hand, bend your right knee and move your lower right leg upward. Grasp your foot or ankle with your right hand and pull up until you feel a good stretch in your right quadriceps muscle. Hold for 30 seconds, slowly release and switch sides.
Make sure to keep your body straight while doing this stretch. Do not bend at the hips or slump at the shoulders.
4. Calf Stretch
Place your hands and the toes of your right foot against a wall with your left foot placed behind your body and flat on the floor. Lean forward slightly and bend your right knee until you feel a good stretch in your right calf. Hold for 30 seconds or longer and switch sides.
It doesn’t take that much effort or time to do a series of post-workout stretches. If you value your health and want to improve your overall function, it is definitely worth the time you invest in them. Just like anything else, be patient and stay as disciplined as you would with any other workouts.
Before you know it, you’ll be moving more gracefully, standing up straighter and getting around town with less pain in your body.
- Blog Contributor