It’s always more fun to hit the weights as soon as you enter the gym, right? No need to stretch. Wrong!
Stretching is often neglected or rushed and should be properly implemented into every single workout. When stretching is properly integrated into weight training, injury occurrence is reduced and the muscles can recover faster. It is critical to properly stretch before and after every gym session.
The connective tissues that surround the muscles keep the muscle fibers tight. This can actually constrict expansion and growth. For muscle growth to occur the surrounding tissue known as the muscle fascia needs to be stretched and become more pliable in order to give the muscle fibers enough room to expand and grow. Not only is it important to stretch before, but also after your workouts. Right after you have trained a particular muscle group, you feel the pumped and tight sensation. The connective tissue is already being stretched from the blood volume in the muscles and stretching properly after will enhance the growth potential of the muscle fibers. Stretch gradually and smoothly, don’t rush and put yourself to the point of pain and risk tearing or pulling a muscle. As you become more familiar with the process, the pain threshold will improve and you’ll be able to hold stretches longer and deeper.
Warming-up should be the initial step in every workout. It ignites your nervous system, prepares the muscles for the delivery of blood, oxygen, and nutrients while preparing you mentally for what’s ahead. Having stiff and un-stretched muscles makes you more susceptible to injury. The best way to prepare for your workout is with active stretching instead of static stretching. Active stretches such as doing arm circles, leg swings, walking lunges, squats without weights, mountain climbers, and jump roping will prepare your body for lifting more effectively. They will also help in attaining better flexibility and achieving a full range of motion. Before the weights, jog for a few minutes and perform a circuit routine of a few dynamic movements.
You know what to do. Before you set your eyes on those dumbbells, stretch!