Benefits of Stretching for Results
When you think of an effective workout that gets you results, stretching probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. If you’re actively engaged in a consistent resistance-based training program, and especially if you’re an athlete, stretching can provide a variety of benefits to increase performance and complement your fitness goals.
Dynamic Stretching vs. Static Stretching
Although there are several types of stretching, the two that are the most common and proven in studies are dynamic and static stretching.
Dynamic stretching is akin to a light warm-up by performing less intense versions of the movements that you will do during your workout. For example, let’s say that today is leg day, and you have the classic barbell back squat on the list. A form of dynamic stretching would be to perform two to three sets of bodyweight half squats.
Static stretching, on the other hand, is the deliberate hold-and-pause of the muscle. For example, if you want to stretch your shoulder, you may take your arm across your chest and hold it there for up to a minute.
After a warm-up, you can use dynamic stretching, and static stretching for up to 45 seconds per stretch before a workout. Post-workout, use static stretching after your cool down
Benefits of Stretching
Let’s jump into the scientifically-backed benefits of adopting more stretching into your workout.
The most popular benefit of stretching is improved flexibility. Studies show that when muscles are warmed up and stretched once, they can remain at an elongated and more flexible length for up to 24 hours. The take away is to be consistent with your stretching to maximize and maintain flexibility.
Improve Range of Motion
Can you move your arm and shoulder through its natural arc of movement from start to finish? If so, you have great range of motion. If you’re like most of us, your range of motion could use some help. Tight muscles, and prior injury and surgery might limit your range of motion, and stretching has been shown to help correct this. One study showed that consistent stretching was able to improve overall flexibility and range of motion by 8 degrees. Again, these benefits are possible through consistent practice of stretching, not just once per month.
Do you lift weights? Are you an athlete? Fan of walking everyday after work? All these forms of exercise, regardless of intensity, can lead to delayed on-set muscle soreness (DOMS).
Post-workout soreness is more annoying than anything, but it can certainly push back your workouts by a day or two. Studies show that subjects who performed a consistent stretching routine saw a perceived reduction in post-workout soreness.
Does Stretching Reduce Risk of Injury?
The question of stretching and injury risk has been a debate for years. Studies are conflicting with some citing that those who stretch as a part of a well-planned workout program do report less injuries, and a decrease in overall risk . However, these findings are not always duplicated because the issue of injury is more complicated than stretching or not stretching.
One way to look at this debate is that stretching doesn’t increase your risk of injury, and it promotes several other benefits, so why avoid it based on the idea that it might not prevent injury?
Do You Stretch After Every Workout?
What benefits do you notice from stretching? Do you perform static stretching, dynamic stretching, or both? Tell us about it in the comments below!