Stretching before exercise is incredibly common. Why? Because research shows that stretching prior to exercise, including weight lifting, helps boost circulation, strengthens muscle tone, and improves elasticity of the muscle.
Many experts recommend stretching both before and after weight lifting. There are several types of stretches to incorporate into a training routine. These include:
- Static – Static stretches are performed in specific positions for a certain amount of time. Many athletes perform this type of stretch between workouts to help release muscle tension.
- Dynamic – Dynamic stretches are done while moving through positions, always maintaining a comfortable range of motion. These types of stretches enhance range of motion and mobility both in sports and daily life.
- Passive – Passive stretching uses external assistance, such as a stretching device, your own body weight, bands, etc. These types of stretches help your muscles relax while the outside force holds you in place.
- Active – Active stretching is when you actively contract the muscle in opposition to the one being stretched. The opposing muscle experiences the stretch, while the muscle you are trying to stretch actually relaxes
Experts agree that stretching is beneficial to exercise both before and after activity. Read on for 5 benefits before weightlifting!
- Increased Flexibility. Stretching after weightlifting increases flexibility and range of motion for lifts. This is important, not only for fitness, but also for reducing muscle tension. It also helps restore constricted or contracted muscles to their original state. The more flexible you are, the easier you will find it to sit, stand, squat, bench press, etc. By using your muscles and stretching them well after weightlifting, you help utilize your muscles? max capacity.
- Increases the Flow of Oxygen. Warming up before lifting weights improves the flow of oxygen throughout your bloodstream. If your muscles do not receive enough oxygen, they experience aches, pains, tension, tightness, and even injury while exercising. Stretching before weightlifting will help supply your muscles with oxygen and reduce aches and pains during exercise.
- Eliminates Lactic Acid. Lactic acid starts to build up in your muscles the moment you start exercising. By stretching, you help the body eliminate lactic acid. This, in turn, reduces muscle soreness and fatigue, both of which play a major part in weightlifting!
- Promotes Coordination and Muscle Tone. Stretching does far more than just release tension in the muscles. It also promotes coordination and muscle tone! It teaches muscles how to work in sync, while increasing mobility of muscle groups for strength training. Research shows that a warm up involving stretch exercises post weightlifting will also decrease muscle soreness and improve the rate of recovery, so you’re ready to get back in the gym sooner!
- Reduces Heart Rate Gradually. After an intense weightlifting session, your heart rate is elevated. Stretching helps gradually lower your heart rate. This is great because it reduces the pressure on the heart. Stretching post workout signals your body that it is time to return to its normal state, and eases it into doing so!
Mental Benefits of Stretching Before and After Exercise
Stretching before and after weightlifting has many benefits, several of which we discussed above. However, did you know that stretching is also proven to help improve a person’s mental outlook? That’s right – if you’re having a bad day, taking the time to simply get up and stretch may help boost your mood! Stress causes muscles to tense up and contract, making your entire body tense. This tension can cause a negative impact on mood as well. Stretching helps release the muscle tension and jump-start the mind. It also releases endorphins which are nicknamed the “happy hormones.”
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