You have been lifting weights regularly for the last couple months and are beginning to notice more definition. Happy with your progress, you continue to lift and keep getting stronger. Then one day while using the squat press machine, you feel a twinge in your inner thigh. You manage to put the weights back safely but are unable to finish your workout. Wincing in pain you wonder, “What happened?”
Or maybe after a couple years away from swimming you return to the pool. The first couple of laps don’t feel as smooth as they once did. As you continue swimming you notice that your strokes are shorter and your shoulders don’t rotate as easily as they once did. As you towel off you wonder, “What happened?”
Not stretching is likely what happened in these scenarios. Stretching is often an overlooked exercise aspect due to time limitations and because it does not produce visible results. But here are some reasons to not overlook stretching again:
As we get older, muscles become tighter and our range of motion decreases. Being flexible is beneficial for everyday tasks and regular stretching can help keep the major joints moving freely and maintain mobility. The danger of losing flexibility is reduced mobility – as movements become harder to do, we instinctively do them less which can lead to things like not being able to stoop down, sit cross-legged comfortably, or bending down in a manner that keeps your back safe. Use it or lose it, isn’t just lip service – it’s a sad reality for many. It’s the natural course that many people follow which results in less activity and increased potential for debilitating injury.
Reduce Back Pain
Moving your body freely without limitations means movements are efficient and less painful. Regular stretching can also lead to better posture and reduced lower back pain.
Every time you lift weights, the muscle is contracting, breaking down and is left in a shortened state. This process leaves muscles feeling sore, tight and at risk for injury. Stretching after lifting weights is essential to reducing the risk of injury, and it can help shorten recovery time.
Improved Muscle Development
Muscles are formed by putting stress, such as resistance or weights, on them while moving through a full range of motion. However, when your range of motion is limited, the development of the muscles is affected. If you want well-developed muscles then make time for stretching.
Now that you know why stretching is important to your routine, be sure to do it correctly. Hold your stretches at the first feeling of resistance. Then breathe for at least a count of ten before releasing. Be sure to modify and adjust stretches to suit your flexibility and range of motion. Stretching is also an activity that can be done as a workout routine. If you’re not sure how, a great way to explore the power of stretching is through Yoga. Find a local studio – you can often get a free intro class (or if participating in a group is too intimidating, find a yoga instructor for a private lesson). You can also YouTube “Yoga for Beginners”. York Rehab also runs a beginner yoga class for those looking to get started.
Not sure which stretches would benefit you the most or how to tailor them to your needs? Consider booking an appointment with one of our physiotherapists who can show you how.