Stretching before and after workouts is important because many injuries in athletes occur from too much or not enough stretching. It also prevents muscle imbalances, which can lead to injury or poor performance. Stretches before and after workouts are beneficial for all levels of athletes, whether you’re a high-school athlete or an elite triathlete.
Injuries are a very common problem among athletes, especially those in the younger age groups or at an elite level. According to Ice Hockey Injury Update, ‘the estimated injury rate for ice hockey is 373 per 1000 player hours, and up to one-third of these injuries are related to muscle strain and tear’. If you don’t warm up correctly before a sport or train your muscles after training them, you can really gain some lasting injuries and impairments.
An effective stretching routine should be the basis of a sport-specific warm-up. Most stretch routines include a sequence of muscle group and body part warm-ups. The purpose of warming up is to prepare your heart, lungs, and muscles for more intense exertion. Studies have shown that cool muscles are more prone to injuries than warmed-up muscles, so warm-up and stretching are essential to prevent injury before the activity starts.
Stretching will also increase your athletic performance by increasing the range of motion in muscles which will decrease muscle tension and fatigue. Any time you stretch before exercise or practice, the muscles related to the sport should be stretched as well. Stretching increases the muscle’s ability to contract and lengthens the muscle, making it more flexible. Muscles run smoothly when they are pliable and elastic. This allows you to stretch your muscles and increase your range of motion.
When you stretch a muscle, the connective tissue is also stretched, which helps to prevent ruptures in the muscles or tears in the connective tissue, decreasing pain after a workout and also preventing long-term damage from sports and training.
After you’ve completed your workout, cooling down is just as important for preventing injuries as warming up before activity. Cooling down means exercising muscles that have just been used, such as the hamstrings and lower back.
By stretching before and after training you can prevent muscle strain or muscle pull injuries, and improve flexibility for better performance.
“Cold” muscles are more prone to injury than “warm” muscles. Stretching in between sets of weightlifting decreases the risk of injury. A study published in Evidence-Based Physical Therapy showed that stretching decreased injury risk by reducing muscle soreness and increasing range of motion.
Studies have also shown that stretching increases the amount of power you can exert during your workout, allowing you to lift heavier weights thus improving your abilities for a better workout.
Stretching even without working out
Stretching is also necessary for everyday activities, including but not limited to: getting out of bed or a chair, reaching high objects or low objects, walking up stairs or hills, and sitting at your desk. Any time you want to increase your range of motion and flexibility for better performance of these basic tasks, you should stretch before you do them.
Posture is another important reason to stretch. According to the American Chiropractic Association posture ‘is defined as the position in which we hold our body upright against gravity’. Poor posture is associated with decreased physical performance, increased risk of injury and can also contribute to obesity. The American Chiropractic Association recommends keeping the head, neck, and back aligned by maintaining good posture for a healthy back.
Stretching can also help decrease pain and aid recovery from injuries. Stretching will decrease muscle tension which will improve range of motion and reduce pain for better function. Also, stretching after a workout makes muscles more pliable or elastic which helps reduce scar tissue build-up and inhibits the growth of new scar tissue.
Supplementing Exercise with Diet and Stretching
Recent scientific evidence has shown that stretching is an important addition to the athlete’s well-rounded workout regime, but it can be a mistake to believe that only a physical therapist or workout specialist can help you with stretching. A properly designed stretching routine done correctly by someone who has the right knowledge and exercises you should do for Injury prevention and recovery should be as effective as done by a fitness professional.
A simple stretches routine can be done at home with just about anything. All you really need is a rubber exercise band, a rolled-up towel, or a foam roller.
Energy drinks can also be a useful part of your workout if done properly. Energy drinks containing caffeine, taurine, and guarana are helpful for an athlete.
A caffeine-based energy drink improves concentration, reaction time, and power. Taurine is an amino acid that helps reduce fatigue and improve muscle function. Guarana contains about three times the amount of caffeine as coffee, but in a smaller serving size so it is not as bitter.Injuries can be prevented with a combination of stretching, diet, and supplementing your exercise with an energy drink that contains caffeine. The combination of these three things will help you have a healthy workout and less pain. If you find yourself suffering from an injury or any kind of pain after working out, drinking energy drinks after your workouts can help to reduce the recovery time and lessen the soreness. Try doing a stretching routine before, during, and after your workout to prevent injury and improve performance. Consider using recovery supplements to optimize your time spent exercising.