Many of us like to skip this part of our training after an intense strength training session. This may be because you don't have the time or you may not even see the point in stretching. If I told you that it would you get you better results enhancing your performance and muscle growth, would you change your mind? If you've made the time to exercise then you must make the time to stretch! But why?
Let me explain to you how muscles work before we discuss why stretching is so important. Your muscle tension is detected by receptors within the muscles. The receptors will monitor any changes in the length of your muscle and the rate at which the length changes. They are there to protect your muscles from injury. If your trying to stretch too fast or far a reflex contraction will occur to stop this happening. When you stretch, the receptors present in your tendons will ease the tension and you will gradually be able to increase the stretch. As you increase the frequency and length of time you spend stretching, your Range of Movement (ROM) will increase.
Now you know a bit about the anatomy of the muscles, let me explain why stretching is so important to getting you those all important results!
1. Increased muscle growth
If you avoid stretching, you will limit your ROM and your muscle growth potential. Stretching will elongate not only the muscle but the fascia (connective tissue) covering the muscle and therefore allowing more room underneath for the muscle to grow. After strength training, these fascia can become very tough and thick and inhibit the growth. Stretching will prevent this happening.
2. Prevent Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
By stretching, you will be able to cut down your recovery time and sneak in an extra workout! Stretching helps release lactic acid from the muscles cells into the bloodstream so that it doesn't hinder further muscle contractions.
3. Prevent Muscle Imbalances
Poor flexibility affects other muscles around them. Your muscles work in pairs, if one muscle group is tense, it will relax the opposing muscle group. If the tension continues, it may cause the relaxed muscle group to permanently relax and even weaken the muscle.
4. Increased Range Of Movement (ROM)
As discussed before, stretching increases your ROM. This in turn will increase your exercise range in your workout and you are able to perform more complex exercises. This in turn will shock the body and produce more effective results.....the ultimate goal.
5. Better Physical And Mental Relaxation
It is a great way to finish your workout, helping to reduce your heart rate slowly and relax the mind and body.
As you can see, stretching is extremely important, but just remember a few things when you do perform your stretches;
Gradually ease into a position, focusing on relaxing the muscle
Stretch only as far as is comfortable and then hold that position. As the muscle relaxes, ease further into the
stretch, gradually increasing the ROM
Never hold your breath. Exhale and relax as you go into the stretch
Take your time holding the stretch. For developmental stretches, you should be holding them for at least 30
Release from the stretch slowly
If your are ever in need of advice, contact Magic Fitness Home Personal Training and I'd be happy to help.