Summary: After a rigorous workout routine, it is essential to stretch your muscles to avoid cramps, stiffness, and injuries. The upper body muscles are one of the most used muscles in our bodies, especially during exercises like weightlifting, push-ups, or pull-ups. Proper stretching of these muscles will alleviate post-workout strain and help increase flexibility and strength. This article provides insights on why you should perform upper body stretches after a workout.
1. Types of Upper Body Stretches
Before starting any stretch, it is essential to warm up your muscles first. There are several stretches you can do, such as shoulder extension stretch, arm circles, triceps stretch, and chest stretch. Shoulder extension stretch targets the shoulder blades, whereas arm circles target the shoulders. Triceps stretches target the muscles located at the back of the upper arms, while chest stretches target the pectoral muscles.
Executed properly, these stretches will help you improve your range of motion, prevent muscle strains or cramps, and minimize recovery time after a workout.
Here’s a sample upper body stretching routine:
- Shoulder extension stretch – 30 seconds
- Arm circles – 20 circles (forward and backward)
- Triceps stretch – 30 seconds
- Chest stretch – 30 seconds
2. Benefits of Stretching
Stretching is a crucial aspect of workout regimes and has numerous benefits for the upper body muscle groups. Firstly, stretching enhances blood flow and oxygenation to your muscles, allowing nutrients and other important elements to reach your muscles. Secondly, regular stretching of upper body muscles can improve posture, as poor posture usually leads to upper back and neck pains.
Stretching also contributes to stress reduction by helping the body to release endorphins, which are natural feel-good hormones that enhance mood. A proper stretch after a workout can also help you unwind after an exhausting routine and help you relax and calm.
If done regularly, it can also improve flexibility and range of motion of your muscles, reduce chances of injury, and accelerate the rehabilitation process in case of injuries.
3. Stretching Improves Performance
Stretching before and after a workout is a recommended practice since it plays a role in enhancing performance and reducing wear and tear on muscles. After a workout, our muscles can become stiff and tense from intense action, interfering with the following day’s session.
Regular stretching keeps muscles loose and supple, creating greater ease of movement during exercise. This enables us to achieve optimal physical performance in subsequent workout sessions, maximize results, and minimize the risk of injury. In summary, proper stretching creates longer and more flexible muscle fibers, ensuring better athletic performance and fewer accidents in workouts.
However, stretching shouldn’t be considered a substitute for the warm-up period. Warm-ups should come first, consisting of light cardio exercises or dynamic stretching like jumping jacks or high knees.
4. Best Practices
To get the most out of your upper body stretches, consider the following best practices. Firstly, don’t overstretch. You should feel a slight tension when stretching a muscle, but not to the point of pain. Secondly, don’t rush the stretch; rather, take it slow and hold each stretch for about 30 seconds.
Also, strive to breathe rhythmically while holding the stretch. Holding your breath can interfere with the effectiveness of each stretch. Lastly, don’t prioritize the intensity of the stretch over other details such as positioning and technique. Improper positioning or wrong technique may cause injury, rendering your entire session pointless.
In conclusion, stretching upper body muscles is crucial after working out. It helps to increase range of motion, flexibility, and oxygenation of the muscles. Stretching before an exercise offers a slew of advantages, including increased physical performance, fewer muscle injuries, and improved movement efficiency. However, it’s important to be careful not to overstretch, rush stretches, and breathe properly.
By incorporating these practices into your stretching routine, you’ll be able to improve your posture, boost muscle performance, and reduce post-workout muscle pains and cramps.