Working out on a regular basis is a great way to improve and maintain good health. If you're not stretching before and after your workout, however, you're not really taking advantage of a complete workout routine. There are several specific benefits of stretching both before and after a workout.

Benefits of Stretching Before a Workout

You should always start your workout with a series of stretching exercises. Stretching 5 to 10 minutes is probably enough for most activities. It's important, however, to adequately stretch all the muscles you'll be using. There are several specific advantages you'll receive when adequately stretching before your workout.

  • Increased Blood Flow- The first thing stretching can do is increase your blood flow. Increased blood flow to your muscles prepares them for strenuous activity.
  • Increased Flexibility and Range of Motion- Correct stretching will loosen your muscles and tendons. This will increase flexibility and range of motion during your workout.
  • Improved Performance- All of the above; increased blood flow, flexibility, and range of motion will improve overall performance.

Benefits of Stretching After a Workout

You may be tempted to go straight into relaxation mode after a workout. It's important, however, to get in even a few minutes of stretching. There are several specific benefits of stretching after you finish your workout.

  • Elimination of Lactic Acid- Lactic acid is produced when you work out. This substance can make muscles achy and tired. Stretching can help reduce the amount of lactic acid throughout your body.
  • Reduces Pain and Chance of Injury- Muscles that stay tight after a workout are more prone to injury. PT in Motion states that the right kind of stretching exercises can limit pain throughout the body. Loosening up your muscles will also reduce your chance of injury.
  • Gradual Relaxation- It's beneficial for both body and mind to gradually slow down. When you stretch after a workout you're giving yourself the chance to gradually wind-down.

Types of Stretches

There are several different types of stretches a person can do before and after a workout. It's important to know which types are right for you and when you should use them in a workout.

  • Static- This involves holding a particular stretch for 10 to 20 seconds. This type of stretch should feel comfortable and is normally done after a workout.
  • Dynamic- These are active movements that are not held but still cause muscles to stretch. These are often done to prepare your muscles for movement.
  • Ballistic- Ballistic stretching involves bouncing movement to push muscles beyond a normal range of motion.

Working with a Physical Therapist

It's important to make sure you're doing the right kind of stretches before and after your workout. A physical therapist can put together an exercise routine for your specific type of workout. Whether you're playing a game of tennis, training for a mini-marathon, or walking through the neighborhood, physical therapy can help you make the most of your activities. A physical therapist can guide you regarding which types of stretches are the best for your current physical condition and the type of activities you're participating in. It's also important to make sure you're doing the right exercises in the correct way. Make an appointment with one of our qualified physical therapists to learn what stretches are right for you. Physical therapy can help you make the most of your workouts and improve your overall health.

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