Author: James O’Sullivan • Fact checked by: Gainful Registered Dietitians • Aug. 25, 2022
After a workout routine, you might find yourself wanting to skip your post-workout stretch and hit the showers, especially if you have a packed schedule.
Resist the urge to avoid stretching and add a few minutes to your workout in order to experience the many health benefits of stretching which, along with protein supplements like Gainful’s Personalized Protein blend, can help support recovery. We’ve put together a list of five recommended post-workout stretches and a list of health benefits associated with stretching.
Stretching targeted muscle groups might add a few extra minutes to your workout cool-down, but it’s for a good cause. Stretching helps maintain flexibility in your muscles and keeps them strong and healthy. During a workout, your muscles move through various contractions and extensions, causing them to become shorter and tighter by the end of the workout.
If you skimp out on stretching, your muscles stay in this state, becoming weaker and unable to extend fully the next time you engage in a workout. Over time, this can cause injuries, muscle imbalances, and loss of strength - leaving you more susceptible to joint pain and strained or damaged muscles that can’t move through the full range of motion.
Stretching is likely to help you feel better after your workout, but there are also many other surprising benefits.
One of the biggest benefits of stretching is improvement in your flexibility. Stretching regularly makes you more flexible, preventing your muscles from developing weaknesses that inhibit them from moving through a full range of motion. Being more flexible also helps you perform daily activities and chores more easily, such as bending over to pick something up off the floor, reducing the risk of injury.
Stretching may be able to improve athletic performance. Certain types of stretching that are done while moving, known as dynamic stretching, help prime your body for the workout to come, potentially improving your performance on the field or at the gym. You can also implement a supplement that contains Creatine, which is known to aid in recovery and increase muscle strength, improving overall physical performance.
Our Creatine Performance Boost works to help support muscle strength, short bursts of energy, recovery, and overall lean body mass to help fuel results.
If you work at a desk job all day, there is a good chance that your posture could use some work. Some studies have shown stretching improves posture by reducing pain in the muscles and joints and encouraging the proper alignment of the spine and limbs. You may find yourself sitting up straighter if you start stretching regularly.
As muscles become weak, tight, and short, your range of motion becomes more limited. That means that you won’t be able to use your limbs and joints to their full capabilities, potentially preventing you from doing certain tasks or movements.
For example, limited shoulder mobility can make it difficult to scrub your back in the shower. Studies show that dynamic and static stretching, in which the muscle is held in an extended position for a longer period, is effective at improving range of motion.
If you struggle with poor circulation, stretching may be able to help. Stretching has been shown to improve blood flow to the muscles. In addition to the health benefits associated with better circulation, improved blood flow can also reduce your recovery time after a workout and may minimize your experience with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) post-exercise.
Taking a workout supplement that contains protein can also give your muscles the fuel they need to recover after a workout and help minimize soreness. Gainful Personalized Protein is tailored to your diet, lifestyle choices, and body composition to help you reach your fitness goals.
Back pain, particularly lower back pain, is a common ailment that is estimated to affect approximately 25 percent of adults in the United States at any given time. Back pain can be debilitating, with many people missing work due to their pain.
Stretching can help to reduce and even prevent low back pain because it improves your range of motion. When your muscles are tight, and your range of motion is reduced, you’re more likely to experience soft tissue strain in your back. Stretching can also help strengthen the muscles in your back and core, making you less likely to experience back pain.
Most people think about the mental effects of stress, but stress also physically affects the body. Tense muscles are commonly associated with experiencing stress, whether physical, mental, or emotional. If you’ve ever experienced tightness or knots in your neck, shoulders, or upper back due to stress, you know how uncomfortable it can be. Stretching can help improve the physical tension caused by stress.
The tight muscles associated with stress can also cause tension headaches. Tightness in the neck, shoulders, and upper back contributes to the onset of tension headaches, but stretching can help.
Stretching is known to reduce tightness and tension associated with physical stress, but it also benefits your mental health. Participating in a regular stretching routine helps to reduce feelings of stress and promote feelings of calm.
There are many different ways to approach a post-workout stretching routine. Some people prefer to focus on only the part of the body that experienced the most exertion during the workout, while others opt for a full-body approach. While there is no right or wrong way to stretch, we recommend moving through the below exercises regardless of what workout you complete, taking extra time to focus on certain muscles as needed.
People who sit for most of the day (whether for work or at home) are more likely to experience a tight lower body and hamstrings, a problem that can be exacerbated by certain types of exercise like running. The hamstrings are the large muscles running down the backs of the thighs, and tightness here can contribute to lower back pain.
To perform a hamstring stretch, stand with your feet underneath your hips and bend at the waist with your arms and head hanging down towards your feet until you feel a stretch. Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds.
Child’s pose is a well-known yoga pose that is excellent for releasing tension in the spine and hips. To perform a child’s pose, kneel on the ground and then sit back onto your heels. Fold at the waist and lean forward with your arms extended along the ground. Shift your weight back to your seat as much as possible, feeling the stretch in your lower back.
A seated spinal twist is an excellent way to improve spinal mobility, stretch the glutes, and support healthy digestion. It is also helpful in reducing back pain because it allows the vertebrae to decompress as the spine lengthens. To perform a seated spinal twist, sit on the floor with both legs extended out in front of you.
Cross your right leg over your left leg so your knee is bent and your right foot rests flat on the floor. Place your left hand on your right knee and your right hand behind you as you twist. Switch sides and repeat with your left leg over your right leg and left foot flat on the floor.
Sitting all day for work can make your hip flexors extra tight, affecting how you walk and run. Your hip flexors run from your pelvis down the front of your leg to the top of the thigh. To perform a lunge, start with your feet underneath your shoulders. Step one leg back until you are balancing on your toes with your heel in the air. Sink down with your front knee bent, doing your best to extend your back leg. You should feel the stretch down the front of your hip.
The arm and wrist stretch is helpful after an upper body workout or when you want to loosen up after sitting all day. To perform the arm stretch, bring one arm across your body at shoulder height, holding it in place with your other arm. You should feel a stretch along the back of the arm and the shoulder.
To stretch your wrist, extend your arm out in front of you and use your other hand to push your fingers up so that your palm is flat. You can also perform this stretch by placing your hands against a wall as if you are going to do a push-up, then pressing yourself backward until you feel a stretch.
Stretching offers a range of health benefits and can help fend off post-workout soreness. After every workout, consider completing a hamstring stretch, child’s pose, seated spinal twist, lunges, and an arm and wrist stretch.
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