Stretching before or after workout - Alpha Male Nation
One of the most known trick for you when it comes to recovery after exercise is stretching. At first sight it seems hard to believe that this type of exercise can help you to improve your performance, but I can guarantee that you will be amazed how beneficial the stretching is no matter what sport you practice. Initially, stretching was used only in the kinetic recovery clinics for the recovery of the joints mobility but, gradually came to be used in all sports as a method of heating or post exercise recovery. The technique of these exercises, as you probably have already guessed, is the controlled stretching and the maintaining of the stretching of the muscle and of the non contractile tissue (for example: the skin, the ligaments, the tendons, etc.). Especially when you are at the first “meetings” of stretching, the straining has be a slow one, without jarring, because you have to avoid the ruptures or the muscles pulling. So, this way you will easier get your muscles used to these movements. The maintaining of the tension shall be for a period of between ten and sixty seconds, coordinated with the breath control. The most important is to feel that your muscle elongates but it is not necessarily to intend to fully stretch the segment of your body that you try to work at.
The benefits that these movements, which seems nearly acrobatic, are numerous and and very important for some of you. After some good hours of effort which involves a particular position, you feel stiff, you feel the need to “straighten” a little. This is the first role of the stretch. It helps you to relief your joints and to improve your muscles elasticity. Also, if you practice these exercises regularly, your muscles fibers will lengthen marginal, after a certain period. To mention that a muscle fiber, the longer it is – the more energy offers with each contraction. Another essential thing that helps you is the elimination of the residues (and with ‘residues’, I mean our old “friend”, the lactic acid) by the stimulation of the blood circulation and lymphatic system and by the increase of the amount of oxygen and of the nutrients in the tendon and muscles area which is brought with blood. In this way, the toxins take their way to the kidneys where they get eliminated or re-synthesized. Despite what others may think, stretching is way different from the massage.
The stretching is a modality of active recovery because you have to execute the necessary movements instead of letting someone else do all the work in your place. Actually some physiotherapists consider that, since it is an active modality, it is much more effective than massage. Depending on the sport, you will be interested to “stretch” the muscles that work the most. For example, those who practice a sport where your feet take the brunt will appeal to specific exercises for the groups of muscles of these parts of the body, such as staying with the tips of your feet on the edge of a stair and descend your heels as down as possible. However, regardless of the specificity of each sport, a common coordinated will be the exercises for the back, because in some way the back is always requested. The more you relax this segment of the body, it will be easier to get used to any kind of effort. You can use the stretching as heating before a contest and even during it you can do a few movements of stretching, reduced of course so this way you can refresh yourself. If you do a session of stretching for recovery, is not necessarily that you practice it immediately after training. In the evening, when you watch TV, may be one of the ideal moments for this kind of relaxing your body.
If you do not warm up yourself in a smart way before your workout you will only have to lose. Therefore, in this article you will discover what a correct heating means and how to get the most from it in order to correct your weaknesses, to improve performance and to optimize training. Now I am going to tell you about heating. If you had the curiosity to look through the gym, you have definitely seen the training habits of people around you. If not, what you saw there, are the following four types of “warming”:
1) Most of the guys just get out of the locker room and sit on the bank for pushing the chest, in the biceps device or they just start to do crunches. In other words, zero heating. And this is not as bad as it sounds – at least not for everyone. When you are young, for example in high school or early college, you will not feel so much the impact on your health and on your performance of the lack of heating and you will get results almost whatever you do – both because hormonal environment is different and also because you are at the beginning and the only direction is up. Another case in which you should not judge harshly the total lack of warming is when you want to prepare yourself for similar situations in everyday life. For example, a soldier, a policeman or a fireman must be ready for action in the shortest time possible – he can not depend on a heating to perform to the maximum. But that does not mean that they should not usually do an intelligent heating. Do not take that as an excuse to skip the heating because in the end, you will wake up with a lot of problems.
2) Besides the guys that do not heat up at all, there are people that move their hands a few times, rotate the shoulders, the hips, the neck and they can even make a few random stretching exercises for three or five minutes before they start training. Even if it is clearly better than the first version, such a warming is far from optimal.
3) Another large category of people use the post running as a heating modality. From all the variants, this is probably the least effective way to occupy your time. The light running in a constant speed for fifteen or twenty minutes is not properly preparing your body for strength training – even less if you train your upper. Certainly it will pump the blood through the veins and it will become “hot”, but despite the name, this is not the main purpose of warming temperature increase.
4) The last and also the style used the less for heating is the one that prepares you the best for the following training, take into account your personal needs and the training will improve your health and will make the life easier. This is the subject I am going to talk about in the following lines.
The characteristics of an intelligent warming
As I said above, an intelligent heating does more than putting your blood in movement. It does not only prepares you for a productive workout, but you are safe from injury and it also optimizes your posture and your health of the entire kinetic chain – muscles, connective tissue and nervous system.
Here are five fundamental characteristics of a successful warming:
- It involves the whole body
Even if in that day you want to train just the bottom area of your body or just your upper body, your heating must cover all the joints. Obviously when you train in special your chest, your shoulders or your upper back, you will focus more on these areas of the body, but in no case you can not neglect your hips, your knees and your ankles. And the same is available if you train your legs – you also have to warm up a bit your upper too. The reason for this is very simple. Whether you realize it or not, any functional exercise you practice, it uses your core, your shoulders complex and you feet. You can not lift a weight above your head without stabilize your mid and legs first, just as you can not do squats with significant weights without tensioning your upper back, your shoulders and your arms.
- It contains dynamic mobility exercises
Maintaining the mobility of the joints with the passage of the time keeps your joints healthy and it also allows the muscles around the wrist to generate more power. The reduced mobility leads to various postural problems and to pain – including back, shoulder or knee pain. For example, when normal mobility of the hips and of the upper back is low because of sitting on a chair, the body has no choice but to use more the lower back to produce the desired movement. The good thing is that many mobility exercises you already knew them from the time of sport hours in school. The lightest of these are:
- head movements: spins left and right, bending forward and back and side
- spins of arms: small and medium circles in front, side and overhead
- spins elbows and wrists spins
- spins of the trunk from side to side (the movement is in balance, not lower back)
- closing the knee to the chest
- closing the sole to the back
- front and back leg swings and left and right leg swings
- side lunges
- spins ankles
- and so on
In addition there are various general mobility exercises borrowed from various other disciplines (such as yoga) and a lot of mobilization exercises dedicated to a particular section of the body. However, if you have no pain or other problems, exercises above should be sufficient. Use them with confidence.
- It uses strategic stretch
One very important thing that you need to know about stretching is that static stretching – those that keep a muscle in a stretched position for more than thirty seconds – reduce the capacity of the muscle to generate strength. That is why, in order to have an optimal workout, you must strategically choose the muscles you want to stretch during the heating. For example, it would be counterproductive to stretch your chest in a static mode before you train it, but it would be good to stretch it before you workout your back in order to be able to do your exercises with a larger range of motion. A good idea would be to make use of this part of warming to combat the negative effects of repetitive posts that you have throughout the day. If you sit on a chair for long periods, do stretches for the hip flexors, and if you sit hunched bent over a laptop, you have to do chest stretches and upper trapezius stretches.
- It uses strategic activations
The muscles that need activation to shrink as effectively as possible, are those with opposing positions than the short ones and tensed ones. Typically those are the scapular stabilizers (mainly in the lower and in the middle trapezius), a part of the core’s muscles, the back and the adductors (those approaching feet). Meanwhile, a concrete example in which the stretching exercises and the activation exercises can be extremely useful is the building of a round and appealing bottom.
- It prepares yourself mentally for training
A good heating should not get you tired, but spark. Its role is to ‘wake-up’ your nervous system and motivate you for an intense and efficient workout. In other words, the heating should not reduce your capacity to train hard. Do not forget that you will obtain the real results after training and do not bother unnecessarily running on the treadmill.
Some reasons that you have to do stretching to get the desired results may be
The musculature develops because of the microlesions that come out in the muscular fiber, that occurring as a result of an intense exercise, the body recover and grow stronger. Probably you did not know that lifting weights does not cause so many microlesions as their slow descent or stretching the muscle. Basically, you can cause more microlesions of the muscular fiber if you stretch that muscle at the end of an workout than skipping this step.
Everyone wants more prominent muscles or more relief muscles but this comes with a price: the lack of mobility. For example, professional athletes have great difficulty in dressing themselves. Practicing stretching, in return, helps you to maintain the flexibility to execute movements of everyday life and develop your muscles at the same time. Stretching is essential if you train in the afternoon because the muscles that remain strained up to four hours after the training session can make you problems when you want to fall asleep. Also stretching helps relax the mind and thus relieve stress accumulated throughout the day.
Here are ten things you may want to know about stretching
- It is recommended that stretching program has to include sessions of at least fifteen minutes, two or three times a week. The best time of the day to do this type of workout is when we feel in shape, especially between fourteen and sixteen in the afternoon, when our flexibility achieve the most optimum point!
- The environment in which unfolds the meeting is very important! Make sure the room is well ventilated, but warm (at least twenty four degrees C), and the music – relaxing (opposed to fitness music, where the background noise must be very entertaining).
- Even if the exercises seem to be “mild”, this does not mean you have to ignore the time devoted to warming. This is essential! It is time to remember why you were doing in the elementary school. The approximately ten minutes from the beginning of each workout must contain a mix of warm-up exercises for all your joints combined with some aerobic movements (a bike, ankles spins, jumping with or without rope). The role is to lift your body temperature to increase the blood flow to the muscles.
- Exercises have to be practiced slowly, after the muscles were very warmed. Do not think of your work, your job or outstanding issues during the practice. To enjoy the full benefits of this type of exercise, each exercise should be performed at least twice and up to five times on each side.
- In the few tens of seconds (between ten and thirty seconds) how each exercise should last, focus on moving, focus on each muscle group worked on its tonic and relaxing effects. Have a rest 10 seconds between exercises. Concentration is important because if they work together, the mind and the body, the effect will be guaranteed!
- Stretching puts great emphasis on breathing! Practicing will remind you (if applicable) to breathe correctly. So breathe deeply through your nose and exhale twice longer on the mouth, while realizing abdominal contraction. In this way even the asthmatic breathing will benefit from improved quality.
- If you are a person who did not move for a long time, you will find out that you are quite a bit flexible, and during the first few sessions, exercises will put you in a situation where each of you will feel the full stretch. Do not despair, the results will not delay to appear!
- As important as any other factor is the order of the execution; you have to move gradually from the upper body to the lower body, executing one or two exercises per muscle group. On those made from legs, the knees bend slightly to better protect the column.
- After a set of exercises on the ground, the return is not standing suddenly, but with a few minutes to ‘intermediate’, sitting upright.
- You should also keep in mind that some items may be slightly uncomfortable if not painful. There is no compulsion joint, you will progress slowly. If there is suddenly a sharp pain sensation, stop! You will resume training on another day.
As we get older, we become less elastic. Stretching improves muscle elasticity substantially by rejuvenating the muscles. Stretching replaces jumping and stretching performed after Ling’s model, exercises which in the end proved that they were more or less effective. The etymological root of the word stretch (“stretchen”) means maintaining muscle stretched for a duration between 10 and 30 seconds. Assisted Stretching is a scientific method developed by Aaron Mattes, a famous American physiotherapist and masseur. It uses precise movements that are designed to isolate specific areas to be stretched. Once obtained the optimal position, stretching is maintained from 1.5 to 2 seconds then released and repeated movement 8 or 10 times in a set. They cover all joints and all muscle groups. In the case of assisted stretching, the therapist is the one that moves and controls the amplitude sets. And this way you will never touch the pain threshold.
In recent years, stretching was recommended and applied by physiotherapists, adopted by many athletes and actors to stretch their muscles and release the tension before a show or an hour before acrobatics.
Some exercises can be practiced in couple, others can be done more easily if you use a ball, some weights or a trellis. However, there are enough exercises for each muscle group that do not require any auxiliary element, that can also be executed easily anytime, anywhere.
In a few words, stretching is today the basis for the preparation of any physical activity. It is actually one of the most recent expressions of exercise.
No matter how bored or pensive were you before coming to the gym, after heating you must feel energized and ready for action. Therefore, my recommendation is to not warm up yourself while you watch TV, while you talk with your colleague or while you check your emails on the smartphone. Just as during the training, your mind should be quiet and focused just on what you have to do. In conclusion, the heat makes you better. Pure and simple. With the heating’s help, you stay healthy, it energize you, it also corrects your posture and allows you to train more efficiently, bringing you faster results.