Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Importantance of Stretching

I realized today that I haven't stretched after my workouts at all this week. Maybe that's why I've been having such a hard time. I know that stretching helps to soften the tightened up muscles after a hard workout and I need to be better about doing it. I've been pretty sore this week and I'm sure that's why. Here is a good site that has some stretches you can do:
I do most of those as well as some more to stretch my back and legs.

I got this info off of about stretching and it's importance:

An effective workout should include both strengthening and stretching. Stretching has a number of beneficial effects that help prevent injury. A strengthening routine will be more effective and less likely to cause injury if you stretch the muscles you have strengthened.

Intense workouts can cause micro-tearing of muscle tissue, leading to inflammation and the development of scar tissue. These micro-tears need to heal so they don't turn into more serious injuries. It is important to allow your muscles to relax so they can rest and restore themselves.

Stretching counteracts tension by lengthening contracted muscle tissue, and mechanically "pumps" lactic acid and other waste products out of the muscles. Once the contraction has been relaxed, normal circulation is restored, and the muscles can rest. If there has been micro-tearing due to overuse, stretching will help realign developing scar tissue to prevent adhesions from forming. Stretching allows the muscle to regain its full range of motion by lengthening muscle fibers that have become shortened by work or exercise.

Stretching also increases flexibility by lengthening contracted muscles and tendons.

One thing stretching does not do is warm up your muscles. Warming up refers to raising your body temperature and increasing circulation to get blood flowing into your muscle tissue. Since maintaining good circulation is an important component of injury prevention, you should warm up before any workout. To warm up, do five minutes of aerobic exercise like brisk walking, running in place or skipping rope. For your stretches to be effective and safe, do them after you have warmed up. Stretching before warming up can cause injury, since cold muscle tissue is more likely to tear.

Here are some stretching tips. 1) Be careful not to overdo your stretching. Forcing your muscles to stretch to the point of pain or discomfort can cause tearing of muscle tissue and injury. It's best to go just to the point where you feel the stretch and stay there. 2) Avoid bouncing in active stretching as the extent of each bounce is difficult to control, putting you at risk of overstretching the concerned muscle. 3) Make sure you take slow, deep, regular breaths as you stretch, to counteract tension and help you relax into the stretch. Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth. 4) Drinking lots of water is always a good idea, but it can also help in your stretching. Proper hydration aids flexibility, and helps relax the body.

Okay, back to me. I think from reading this information I've come to realize that I need to be better about stretching. Especially because I do a pretty intense workout. Not that I go harder than most people, just longer. And I feel like if I don't stretch after I do my workouts I may actually be causing my body greater harm than the good the exercise does.

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