You come across a friend whom you never thought would get slim and trim or you meet your neighbour who’s now transformed into a fitness freak. What do you do next? Hit the gym or push your body beyond normal during the next workout, right? It’s a natural response since the adrenaline is driving you, but not for long. And then, a few days later or the morning after the workout, you’re annoyed that you cannot move your limbs normally, either you limp or have an L-shaped arm refusing to straighten! Familiar story?
Stretching before and after any physical activity is the key to waking up to a healthier body in general and stronger muscles in particular. Stretching tells your muscles that you will push them beyond normal in the next few minutes. This also helps prevent common injuries that take place without a proper warm-up session. So you need to wake your muscles up before you exercise or help muscles to rest after the workout.
While exercising, your muscles experience microscopic tears and will learn to re-build when you rest. That’s why you can easily run 25 km. after a few sessions of 20 km. or do 20 push-ups instead of the 15 you’re normally used to.
Stretching after exercise is also critical since it helps flush out the lactic acid from your muscles, ensures shorter duration of muscle soreness and helps your muscles grow into their new avatar quickly. Maybe just to help you do more push-ups!
If these benefits aren’t enough, stretching helps protect your bones and joints by ensuring your muscles are engaged, thus preventing injuries to them. Another crucial topic for another day.
So in a nutshell, stretching helps you recover quicker, perform better, improve muscle memory and keeps you in your exercise regimen for longer.