Stretching after your workout helps your muscles to relax, reducing the stiffness and tension caused by putting them to use.
The benefits of stretching after vigorous exercise extend beyond just allowing you to feel good, the little bends and twists you engage in actually help to decrease muscle stiffness by increasing oxygen circulation throughout the body.
If you’ve been good about stretching after exercising, you’re already on the right track, but have you considered if the way you’re stretching is as effective as you think it is?
Do’s and Don’ts of Post-Workout Stretching
Whether you think you’ve got your stretching exercises mastered, there might be a few movements that could actually be hurting you in the long run.
Do use static stretching for flexibility
Static stretching is really helpful in reducing muscle soreness the day after your workout. Performing static stretching exercises after your workout will also help to maintain flexibility, and therefore, reduce the risk of injury.
Don’t stretch if you’re already flexible
If you’re the type of person who is extremely flexible, instead of stretching, take a hot bath or engage in other relaxing activities. Stretching when you are too flexible could lead to joint laxity, which you want to avoid.
Do stretch the tight muscles
It is common to have tight hamstrings, calves and hips after your workout, so make sure you focus on these areas and give them the good stretch that they need to help these muscles reduce tension and stiffness.
Don’t contract the muscle you just stretched
If you have just engaged in stretching your muscles, don’t contract them after the stretch. For example, if you performed a lateral stretch by hanging from a bar, avoid contracting those muscles and use your legs to jump back down, otherwise, you will undo the stretch.
Do stretch during the day
Some researchers say that stretching regularly throughout the day will boost flexibility and enhance muscle performance. Taking the time to stretch at different parts of the day might prove to be more effective than immediate pre or post-workout stretching.
Don’t stretch injured muscles
Avoid stretching the muscles that are injured. While you may think you are releasing tension and feeling good from the stretch, you might actually be causing more damage that could potentially worsen the injury.
While post-workout stretching is important, there are a few rules that come with stretching in general.
- Some researches say it’s okay to skip stretching before your exercise.
- Make sure to stretch regularly especially if you have poor posture.
- After vigorous exercise, perform cooling down activities to bring your heart rate down gradually.
- Don’t hold a stretch for longer than 15 seconds due to muscle hypoxia, which decreases oxygen circulation to the muscles and leads to inflexibility.
- If you have an injury to the lower back, avoid the early morning stretch and wait for an hour after you have woken up.
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E. (2018, June 28). How To Stretch Properly: The Do’s And Don’ts Of Stretching. Retrieved from https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/how-to-stretch-properly-the-dos-and-donts-of-stretching.html
The New Do’s and Don’ts of Stretching. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/wellness/fitness/articles/2017-10-13/the-new-dos-and-donts-of-stretching
The Do’s and Don’ts of Stretching. (2018, May 21). Retrieved from https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/dos-and-donts-stretching/