A warm-up is often done before taking part in exercise to lubricate the joints and increase the blood flow in the muscles in order to prepare for your workout. Not everyone can run 100 meters as fast as Usain Bolt but we can all have a stretch cant we? During workouts, the blood flow increases to match the increased metabolic rate of skeletal muscles. These muscles need oxygen for aerobic metabolism and production of energy.
How does stretching help?
Stretching after working is out is highly recommended. Stretching squeezes out the old blood, containing these pain producing chemicals. After stretching, when you relax your muscles, fresh blood flows in and brings in oxygen and nutrients. This, done over many times rejuvenates the muscles and improves the metabolism as a whole. It removes body ache and fatigue. Scientific experiments have shown that stretching helps in faster recovery after a heavy workout. It prepares the muscles for the next round of exercise and prevents injury.
How to perform stretching?
This should be performed during the cooling down phase after workout. An experienced trainer in a health club can guide you through a correct method thereby preventing muscle or joint injury. Ensure that your clothes are well fitting and comfortable to perform stretching. Try to understand the instructions and follow the demonstration given by your trainer. Always follow a sequence as you may start from head to toes or the other way.
Some common stretches
There are a number of stretches, mainly involving the bulky muscles, though one may also include small muscles. These are quadriceps, hamstring, side and calf stretches.
Any stretch should be held for 15-20 seconds. This overrides the reflex muscle contraction which occurs on stretching initially. It should be a daily routine after the workouts so as to maintain the flexibility of joints and muscles. It is better done under supervision initially to avoid injury. Another way to increase safety is to do it slowly. There should be no sudden or jerky movements. A correctly performed stretch usually does not result in pain. In case of any injury, one should avoid stretching. One should know one’s physical limitations and perform workouts and stretching in accordance with your limitations the key is to listen to your body.