Updated: Feb 2, 2022
New Year means new you. But have you started with your fitness goals already? Or is Netflix still tempting you to lie down and watch? Yep, we’ve been there and it sometimes sparks some guiltiness after. But 2021 should be your year of comeback. If you’re having doubts about what to do and are afraid to actually do some hard exercises, then you can start things off with stretches.
Studies often tell us that stretching helps keep our muscles strong, healthy, and flexible for any workout that needs a lot of action. It also improves posture increases energy and releases tension. Without stretching, you would actually feel your muscles tighten and weaken faster during your exercise. So, no matter what fitness goals you may have this year, never forget the most basic yet important component: Stretching!
Is there a need to Stretch when I exercise?
Yes. No matter how inconvenient it is for you to warm up and cool down, stretching is important to prevent injuries, pain, and strains during and after your workout. For example, you spend most of your day doing desk work and decide to exercises after, without stretching your muscles tighten and can lead to damage from the sudden activity. Stretching prior to exercise helps to reduce the risk of injury. It allows your muscles to loosen up and increases your range of motion.
Stretching after a workout is also essential. Post-workout stretches are also known as “maintenance stretches” for Physical Therapy. Stretching post-workout helps to move lactic acid out of your muscles and decrease soreness. These stretches can also help blood flow return to a regulated pace.
Both pre and post-workout exercises are important. They serve separate and yet the same purpose and that is pain reduction and injury prevention. Physical Therapists recommend two types of stretches, and here they are:
Warm-up Exercises- Dynamic Stretches
Warm-up exercises consist of what we call “Dynamic Stretches”. It involves active movements that use muscles and joints at their full range of motion. Your physical therapist uses dynamic stretches to increase muscle temperature and reduce stiffness to enhance your performance and prevent muscle injury. When warm is done correctly, it improves the speed, acceleration, and agility needed during a workout session.
Here are some dynamic stretches and we recommend completing two rounds of 10 repetitions for each movement.
Cool Down Exercises- Static Stretches
Static stretches are still and don’t involve any movement, it also involves stretches that should be held for a period of time (between 10-60 seconds). The goal here is to help the body gradually slow down and help tired and constricted muscles to return to a more relaxed state from the rigorous workout.
Here are some Static Stretches for you to try. Note that you only stretch the muscle that is tight from the workout. Physical Therapists say that you should feel a slight pull with a little discomfort but no pain and do the stretch for 30-60 seconds.
Knee to chest
Stretching indeed is helpful for your health and you don’t have to have a physical problem to start. There are more stretching exercises that you can learn and do with your Physical Therapist.