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Stretch Myth Busters: If You Stretched Before, Don’t Bother to Stretch After

by Lindsey McFadden

Practitioner performing assisted stretching to customer

It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional athlete, regular gym-goer, or work out when you have a chance; you should know the benefits of stretching. Muscles can be strained, pulled, and torn if you aren’t careful. This is why many athletes are seeking professional guidance with assisted stretching. 

Many benefits are associated with assisted stretching, which a growing number of athletes are finding out. Whether you’re in high school, college, or a professional athlete, you have nothing to lose by consulting with certified stretch practitioners. 

Did you know that Drew Brees is a firm believer in assisted stretching? That’s correct. The Saints’ prolific passer is the spokesman for Stretch Zone! If Brees trusts Stretch Zone to gain an edge over his competition, why can’t you?   

Why is Stretching Important?  

Stretch practitioners suggest that everyone stretches daily or at a minimum of four times a week. The human body contains about 600 muscles, so it’s understandable if you don’t know where to start or if it will make a difference.   

Luckily, there are only a few groups of muscles you need to stretch. These include the legs, back, shoulders, and neck – the parts of the body required to execute all the daily duties you perform. 

What Muscles Should I Stretch Daily? 

Quadriceps 

The quadriceps are the toughest muscles of the entire body. This group of muscles is responsible for several essential functions that help us move with ease. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to run, walk, stand, or have stable kneecaps. 

Hamstrings 

 Professional athletes commonly injure these muscles, as well as the average person going about their days. This group is comprised of three muscles located behind the thigh. The hamstrings directly affect hip and knee mobility.  

Calf Muscles 

These muscles are crucial if you like moving your ankles, feet, and toes. While you may know how the Achillies tendon got its name, do you know what it does? The tendon connects the three major calf muscles (plantaris, gastrocnemius, and soleus) to the heel bone. Doing so allows us to run, jump, or complete any other type of physical exertion. 

Back and Neck Muscles 

There are 40 muscles in your back that are paired off and run down both sides of your body. These muscles let our necks, shoulders, and backs twist and bend in the ways they do. Harming these muscles can be devastating for athletes. This is why assisted stretching is recommended   

Each human neck contains 26 muscles. There are ten sets of two, and the remainder are in groups of three. These muscles are among the easiest to be strained. 

Shoulder Muscles 

Between the two shoulders, there are 40 total muscles. One of the most common soft tissue issues in shoulders is torn rotator cuffs. By consulting with a stretch practitioner learn how assisted stretching can help you avoid common injuries.   

What are the Benefits of Stretching? 

Many people don’t know just how beneficial stretching can be. There’s a slew of reasons why you should implement more stretching into your daily routine. These reasons include: 

  • Enhances posture
  • Helps heal and prevent future pain
  • Improved flexibility
  • Increased ranged of motion
  • Leads to better physical performance
  • Offers stress relief
  • Promotes blood flow to muscles

All of these reasons lower potential stressors to your body. The more stressors your body has, the more like it is to be injured. Stretching loosens and warms up muscles, which helps them stay durable and less likely to become injured when you exercise. 

Assisted stretching practitioner performing upper body stretch to senior customer

What Are Stretch Practitioners? 

These are experts who offer assisted stretching services. These experts can have a varied background, with either educational or working experience in the following: 

  • Exercise physiology
  • Kinesiology
  • Massage therapy
  • Personal trainers

In addition to one of these backgrounds (or others), each stretch practitioner is highly trained and certified in their line of work. It is highly recommended for every athlete or gym goer to connect with a stretch practitioner and learn how they could benefit from professional help. 

Stretching Before Workouts

If you’re going to commit to stretching, it would be a great idea to know when. You need to stretch at some point, but it is okay to stretch before and after a workout. Stretching before workouts does several things: 

  • Increases blood flow, which preps muscles for exerting activity.
  • Improved flexibility and motion. Properly stretching loosens muscles which let them flex easier.
  • Improved overall performance

Pre-Exercise Stretches 

Now that you are familiar with the benefits, it’s important to learn what stretches are best for pre-workout. Stretches that help get your heartbeat going are the types of stretches you should be doing. The best way to prepare for an activity is to be active. 

Dynamic Stretching 

This group of stretching is referred to as dynamic stretches. The key benefit is that they propel your joints and muscles through their full range of motion. This ensures they are limber and ready to perform. 

Pre-workout stretching is all about heating your muscles and reducing the potential for injury, all while working out muscle stiffness. In addition to this, if done correctly, dynamic stretches can improve your agility, acceleration, and speed!  

With the guidance of one of our trained stretch practitioners, we will guide you through one of the following dynamic stretches at some point. While these are not the only types, they give you an idea of what to expect when working with us. 

High Knees 

If you’ve ever watched any pro sport, you’ve seen athletes doing high knees. High knees involve you lifting one knee at a time to your chest while keeping a straight posture. You may find it easier to start with jogging or by running in place. 

Arm Circles 

A favorite amongst pitchers is arm circles which loosen up arm, shoulder, neck, and back muscles. Hold your arms out to your sides as if you were spreading your wings and rotate them in a circular motion. Slowly increase the radius until you feel a stretch in your triceps, then it’s time to reverse direction. 

Standing Toe Taps 

These are very simple to do, yet very effective. Stand upright and reach out in front of you with either arm. Keeping your legs and back straight, with the leg on the same side as your arm, touch your toes to your hand. A stretch practitioner will help you repeat this several times on both sides. 

Butt Kicks  

Butt kicks are essentially jogging in place. The only difference is that you want to pull your heels closer to your glutes than they otherwise would. Keep in mind that you need to keep your core engaged and remember to keep your shoulders back. 

Active Stretching  

Another way to heat the muscles is through passive stretching variants. Another name for these is static-active stretching. Active stretching involves holding a muscle in place and working other muscles they reconnected to, such as pulling your knee to your chest while sitting down and rotating your ankle, but more effective stretches can be done during assisted stretching. Your stretch practitioner will assist you and help you learn other forms of static-active stretching. 

Stretching After Workouts  

There are just as many important reasons why you should stretch after exercise as well. One of the worst things to do post-workout/game is to sit or relax right away. Do you know how a car gets hot after it’s been driven? That’s what happens to the human body on a lesser scale.    

Did you know that your muscles are more likely to become injured if they stay tight after you exercise? The risk of injury rises as you ramp up your exercise intensity. That’s right, the harder you work your body, the greater risk of injury can occur during or after the physical activity.   

Once the body heats up, the worked muscles need time to cool down, but they also need assistance at the same time. You never want just to walk away from training. Passive stretching is one of the best things you can do for your muscles. Even just a few dedicated minutes can go a long way to a better post-game or post-workout experience.   

Another benefit is lactic acid reduction. Lactic acid is generated during exertion and contributes to muscles feeling achy and tired. While stretching can’t dispel all the acid, it goes a long way toward making muscles feel better.   

The point here is that it’s never a good idea to quit anything cold turkey – not even exercise. Your body needs to wind itself down from vigorous activity slowly. Since you’re winding down, stick to static movements and avoid anything strenuous.   

Stretch Zone practitioner performing upper body stretch to female customer

What is Lactic Acid? 

Lactose is a chemical produced as a byproduct of anaerobic respiration, which is the process where cells have energy in hypoxia zones. Hypoxia zones refer to areas starved of oxygen. How can there be a lack of oxygen if exertion leads to heavy breathing? 

While that is true, sometimes the required amount is higher than the supplied amount, leading the body to do a miraculous thing. The human body knowingly provides itself with an unsustainable amount of energy that, in a short amount of time, will harm the muscles it is trying to help.  

When the body needs energy, it prefers to do so aerobically, meaning with oxygen. In cases where energy requirement is unobtainable through traditional means, the body generates energy anaerobically, which means the energy is derived from glucose. 

When the body breaks down or metabolizes glucose into pyruvate, the process is called glycolysis. After glycolysis, pyruvate is converted into lactate, and the lactate breaks down glucose resulting in additional bursts of energy. 

On average, people can only maintain this for three or fewer minutes at a time. However, in the time the body is performing this action, it’s doing so efficiently. Only when the muscles are becoming starved will the body pull out this last-ditch attempt. 

Stretches for After Workouts 

As mentioned earlier, the time directly after workouts or physical activity is for properly cooling your muscles down. The best way to do this is by using as little movement as possible and stretching your muscles gently. 

These stretches are also completed with stretch practitioners who ensure you are stretching correctly. Again, assisted stretching is always best so you can avoid stretching incorrectly and potentially harming yourself.  

Passive Stretching 

While often used interchangeably with static stretching, both terminologies denote different types of stretching. This can be swapped with is relaxed stretching; the point of this is to hold a stretch for a longer duration than other types. 

These stretches are best done with stretch practitioners as they can get leverage on your muscles that you can’t. Not only do these stretches help considerably with reducing lactic acid – they feel great too. 

Other Type of Assisted Stretching 

The following is considerably different than the others. This stretch can only be done with the guidance of stretch practitioners. 

Isometric Stretching   

This type of stretching involves the body remaining static while muscles are stretched through resistance. For example, have your assistant stand behind you while holding your foot. Try to push against the restriction for up to 15 seconds. Do this repeatedly and with many different muscle groups. 

Interesting in Trying Assisted Stretching? 

If you’d like to stretch like the professional quarterback Drew Brees, consult Stretch Zone now for information on the next steps. Stretch your way to success with assisted stretching today! 

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