Sore Muscles? An Explanation of the Importance of Stretching to Speed up Post Workout Recovery

Don’t let your sore muscles slow you down!

By: Rebecca Jacobs

If you find yourself skipping the cool down after a workout you’re going to want to read this. While we’ve all been told it’s important to stretch before and after a workout, is it important enough not to skip out on at your next group fitness class? We’re about to break down the importance of stretching for you.

The Importance of Stretching

So, this is nothing new. We’ve all been told to warm up the body before we exercise, and then to stretch those tired muscles as we wind down a workout, but what is it about stretching that’s so important?

Here’s what you really need to know about the importance of stretching.

  • Stretching promotes flexibility allowing our muscles to stretch and respond appropriately during exercise.
  • It will help promote better muscle strength by supporting better range of motion and preventing muscle tightness.
  • Stretching reduces pain as well as muscle and joint stiffness.
  • It can help get the blood flowing before your workout starts.
  • Stretching can help boost exercise performance.

So, yeah, stretching is sort of an important part of your fitness routine, and will significantly cut back on tight hammies after leg day. But, if you’ve been skipping the warm up and dipping out before you get a good stretch in, don’t fret, you can start establishing better stretch habits now.

Ok, So How do I Stretch?

Feeling confused about how you are supposed to stretch? Don’t get stressed out over this; we are going to break down exactly what you need to know about how to stretch before exercise, and how to stretch after exercise to speed up post-workout recovery.

The Breakdown on How to Stretch Before Exercise

Warming your body up before your workout may be your secret weapon when it comes to taking your workout to the next level. With warmer muscles comes increased flexibility which can lead to more effective workouts. It’s a domino effect, so take a few minutes before you kick your workout into high gear to really get the body warm and do a quick stretch.

Here are some stretches you can try before exercise to help warm your body up.

  • Use a foam roller to increase blood flow to muscles.
  • Do a few reps of walking lunges to get the body warm.
  • Stretch those hammies out using a stretch band.
  • Get your heart rate up by jogging in place or doing some jumping jacks.

Pro Tip: For static stretches like stretching your hamstrings, aim for 30-seconds per stretch to prevent overworking your muscles before exercise.

The Breakdown on How to Stretch After Exercise

Ok, so you just got in a good workout, and you are toast, but wait…it’s time to stretch. While it may be the last thing you want to do, and you may feel like you have a dozen other more important things to do, you can get a quick stretch in to support muscle and joint recovery in under five minutes.

Here are some ways to stretch after exercise.

  • Slow down your heart rate and breathing by taking some long and deep breaths bringing your arms up over your head and then slowly lowering them down.
  • Do your favorite calf, hamstring, and glute stretch, holding each stretch for 30 seconds.
  • Stretch out those tight abs by doing a cobra yoga stretch.
  • Stretch out those arms by bringing one arm across your body and holding it for 30 seconds, and switch.

Bonus Stretching Tips

If you’re dealing with sore muscles after each workout, you may benefit from some stretching props that can help support exercise recovery, and may even help enhance your workout.

Here are some props that can take your post-workout recovery stretch to the next level.

  • Foam rollers
  • Plexus yoga wheel
  • Yoga blocks
  • Stability ball

The Takeaway

Do your body a favor by doing the warmup, and sticking around for the cool down. Even three to five minutes of stretching can make a huge difference in how your body recovers from exercise, and how good you feel during your workouts. So, the bottom line is, don’t cheat yourself, do the stretch! Trust us, your body will thank you for it after an intense strength workout with trainer Kenta Seki or a HIIT workout with Danielle Pascente.