You’re crunched for time as it is.
You wake up well before the sunrise to get your morning workout in and then maybe try to squeeze in another session over your lunch break. With so many responsibilities to balance, just getting in those quality workout sessions is a large task.
So do you really need to take more precious time to stretch post-workout? In short, yes.
Your post-workout doesn’t need to take 20 minutes, and toe touches may not be necessary, but ensuring a proper cool down that incorporates lowering your heart rate and increasing circulation is important. Stretching is a key component to that cool down routine.
While there are conflicting reports about the specific benefits of stretching, most researchers agree there are benefits to stretching post-workout. Stretching after a workout jumpstarts the recovery process for muscles that have been worked during training. Stretches can help restore the muscles to their original state, readying them for their next tasks.
Another reason to stretch is to aid in injury prevention. Stretching is often neglected because we’re able to get away without stretching after every workout—at least for a while. We forget about it or cast away the importance of it until an injury crops up. But incorporating stretching into your cool down routine can help prevent future injuries, and therefore prevent changes to your training plan.
Finally, stretching helps improve flexibility. While you don’t need to be able to touch your toes, you do want your body to be able to move through a full range of motion. The ability to move through a full range of motion allows for more efficient movements, and thus better performance.
So instead of thinking about the extra time that stretching post-workout will take, think about the physical benefits that can be gained from this simple practice.
Post-workout stretching will:
- Begin muscle recovery
- Aid in injury prevention
- Improve flexibility
What is your stretching philosophy and pre and post-race stretching routine?
Elizabeth James is an Ironman, a USAT Level 1 Certified Coach, and a TriDot coach. She made the transition from running marathons to triathlons in 2012 and has completed sprint, Olympic, 70.3, and full Ironman distances. She and her husband, Charles, live in Garland, Texas.