The muscles in our body are used all the time and are the reason why we can move. It is so important that we look after them; especially after physical training. Physical training alters the appearance of muscles as well as their performance. When muscles grow, the cells them-self change in size, no new cells are made. This is why we feel pain after exercising. If we don’t look after our muscles, stretching them after using them, it can result in overuse injuries such as stress fractures or joint/ tendon inflammation.
In the 2-3 hours after exercising our muscles are most fatigued – they need feeding!! Protein helps to recover and grow muscles.
If you can imagine the enzymes that help the process of recovery as a collection of little eager construction workers ready to build – if they turn up to work and lack their materials, their talent cannot be put to use, BUT, if you provide them with the correct raw materials, they can perform work to the highest standards.
As well as muscles being fatigued after exercise, your tissues and organs are too. When exercising, everything is put to its limits. Restorative breathing is therefore also something that helps recovery as it slows the heart back down and also normalises the lungs again.
How can stretching help muscle recovery?
There are many benefits that stretching gives to help the recovery of the body after exercising.
- Increased flexibility of different muscles groups
Stretching helps release constricted and contracted muscles back to their comfortable state. This also helps increasing flexibility itself and injury prevention.
For example, doing leg stretches after a long run increases muscular power and endurance.
- Improved blood circulation
Stretching helps the body to cool down, therefore returning the heart rate back to resting. Once the blood circulation and heart rate are back to normal, this allows the muscles to relax so recovery can begin.
- Eliminates lactic acid
Working your muscles produces lactic acid which makes the muscles fatigued and sore. Stretching eliminates the lactic acid build up so helps to relax the muscles in order to recover and repair.
- Pain Prevention
If muscles remain tight after exercising, it can increase your risk of an injury. Stretching helps loosen the muscles which minimises the risk of injury.
- Improved range of motion
Muscles that are not stretched usually remain constricted which prevents them being used to their full potential. Therefore, if we keep stretching them after exercising, the muscles performance when exercising will increase.
- Increased muscular coordination
For strength trainers, it is even more important to stretch post exercising. When you stretch tired muscles, you give them better functional mobility and allow them to synchronise properly.
When your muscles are constricted and tight it often causes peoples posture to change, such as rounding the back. If we loosen up and stretch the muscles, you will see a better posture develop.
- Improved nerve signals
Stretching allows a constant flow of nerve signals between the brain and muscles which will increase performance.
During exercise your whole body is pushed to its limits. Breathing to create mind and body connections, help relax the body; when the body is relaxed the muscles are able to relax too.
Stretching promotes muscle growth; it elongates the fascia which helps the muscle to grow.