There is no better feeling than the one that we feel after a successful workout. We’re sure that’s the thing we all agree on! But the end of a workout isn’t just about that good feeling, is it?
We start each workout with warming up, and we have already written about the importance of warming up. The warm-up is followed by the main part of the workout, and we finish it by stretching. Why stretching and in what ways can we stretch?
Stretching has been used in yoga for thousands of years, and the main benefits are increased flexibility and mobility. In today’s sedentary age when we spend most of our time sitting at work, school, college or in the car, our flexibility declines. Some people are naturally more flexible than others, but the notion that flexibility cannot develop in later life is not entirely correct. With work, proper stretching and a lot of effort, flexibility can be increased. Also, regular stretching helps with that.
What is flexibility and why should we stretch after a workout?
Flexibility is the ability to perform movements. It depends on a number of factors such as the structure of the joints and their shape, muscles and ligaments, and it also depends on age, gender, previous injuries and so on. Flexibility is more pronounced in childhood. There are also external factors that affect flexibility, and we need to keep these in mind. These are temperature (flexibility is stronger at a higher temperature that is achieved during training), time of day (we are more flexible in the evening than in the morning), clothing and more.
In addition to working on flexibility with stretching exercises, we also use it to calm the body after exercise. Stretching reduces the risk of injury, relaxes muscles and ensures easier movement, and at the same time prepares the body for greater efforts.
Stretching should always be done with a completely relaxed state of the muscles. It is then possible to achieve maximum muscle lengthening.
Now that we know what stretching is and why it is necessary to stretch after a workout, we can introduce you to the four types of stretching.
1. Static stretching
This type of stretching involves a longer retention of the stretched position of the muscle in the position in which reflex contraction occurs. After a while, the tension in the tendons will increase, and an inverse myotactic reflex will occur and relax the muscle. This is how the adjustment to stretching and the progress in static flexibility occur. Static stretching has a very good effect on muscle relaxation and flexibility, but it is not appropriate to perform it before speed, strength or intense workout as it will reduce the ability of the muscles to respond to rapid stretching.
2. Dynamic stretching
Dynamic stretching involves reaching a stretched position for a moment, but through slower and repetitive movements to the maximum amplitude of the movement at which the myotactic reflex occurs. The muscle will still be able to respond to stretching, but the limit of its stretch will adjusts to movement without the risk of injury.
3. Active stretching
With this type of stretching, the main focus is the muscle group opposite to the group we are stretching because the tension of one muscle group allows the opposite group to relax.
4. Passive stretching
To perform passive stretching, we use an additional external object for the purpose of achieving maximum range of motion. With this type of stretching, another person often helps us. This person stretches a certain part of the other person’s body with an external force. It is important to be careful with the amount of external force applied and align it with the level of flexibility the person stretching has.
Let’s go over the main points once again: The most important advantage of stretching is calming the body after exercise, but stretching also improves the range of motion in the joints, improves muscle coordination, increases circulation in different parts of the body, which leads to increased energy levels.
After the next workout, think of our advice and do a good stretch!
Your Gyms4you team