Stretching Before or After a Work-Out…

“I always stretch before a workout, but should I be doing it after as well?”  -Sarah V.

 

Muscles are made of multiple individual fibers. During a workout (especially during an intense one), these fibers can become disordered and after a workout and the muscles need to repair themselves. Disordered fibers slow down the recovery process. When you stretch a muscle, tension in the fiber increases, aligning the disorganized tissue in the same line. It’s kind of like when you pull on a wrinkled shirt and the wrinkles straighten out. When a muscle takes too long to recuperate, scar tissue can build up and an entire workout cycle can be interrupted. This can slow down muscle gain and performance.

Then there is the issue of soreness following a workout. Studies have shown that performing stretching excercises after a workout reduces the risk of injury and soreness. Stretching can also prevent cramps by making sure the muscles are provided with good blood flow while simultaneously helping to keep tendons flexible.

What about joint pain? Muscles attach to the bones that make up joints via tendons so that the joints can move. Stretching helps make sure that the tendons maintain proper amounts of elasticity so that they don’t put undo stress on your joints and create discomfort.

Furthermore, stretching reduces the stretch reflex. This is the body’s automatic defense mechanism to overextension. Holding a stretch for a prolonged period of time habituates the reflex so it reduces its signal. This helps muscles have a fuller range of motion — quite useful in bodybuilding since a proper range of motion during reps increases a workout’s effectiveness.stret 

All in all, stretching helps the body recover from exercise, reduce soreness, prevents joint pain, and makes your workouts more productive. Stretching after your exercise just makes sense! Stop by our office and we’d be happy to help show you the best stretches for your activity level.