Honestly, I am extremely guilty of not heeding my own advice when it comes to stretching, warming up and cooling down. Day in, day out I say how important it is to properly stretch, but subsequently neglect my own advice and just crack on with a workout. However, this has often come back to bite me in the backside due to receiving little niggling injuries due to poor preparation and neglecting a stretching routine. I knew it was important but hey, I was young and active… I didn’t need to stretch that much, right? Wrong!
As a result of intense training we cause microscopic tears to our muscle fibres. With some rest our muscles repair and grow, however without proper stretching these fibres heal tight. This increases the risk of niggling little injuries that I have often had, so it is vitally important for some good stretching before and after to prevent this from happening. Consequently, stretching is now a regular part of my workout routine.
Here are a few more great benefits of regular stretching for an active female:
A symptom of getting older is often getting shorter and tighter muscles, reducing you overall flexibility. Having a limited range of flexibility makes us all a lot more susceptible to soft tissue injuries (tendons, ligaments and muscles). Regular stretching is our main remedy for reduced flexibility and can help improve flexibility, thus helping to reduce the risk of injuries. You will also experience less tightness in your joints and muscles, allowing you to exercise more easily.
Being stressed causes our muscles to contract and become very tense. This tension can take its toll on your physical and mental well-being if it is not addressed. Some gentle stretching is a perfect way of trying to remove some of that tension associated with stress.
Tackles Lower Back Pain
Millions of people everywhere suffer with persistent lower back pain. But stretching is a great way to alleviate back pain and soreness by strengthening the lower back muscles. Interestingly, there are a lot of muscles that contribute to our posture, and by stretching these muscles, lower back pain and soreness can greatly be reduced. If this can be combined with a resistance training programme, then we can strengthen our back muscles greatly, and become stronger and more stable.
It can often feel then when we have been sat down and done very little for a long period, we can feel very tired despite not doing anything. This is because the blood pools in the muscles, which can cause us to feel tired and sluggish. However, if we start to stretch then the blood starts to circulate and consequently get our brain moving and in to gear.
Therefore, before you do training of any sort, I recommend at least 5 minutes of active stretching as part of a warm up. This will help to warm the muscles up by increasing the blood flow. Similarly, I recommend a 5 minute cool down accompanied with stretching following your workout. This will promote a safe and effective beginning and end to your workouts, helping you avoid injury and perform with greater consistency.
Enjoy your workouts