The importance of stretching before and after a workout

Five common excuses to skip stretching and five tips to smash them!

Rachael Attard Lean Legs Program – Sunday Week 6

Yesterday I felt really good on my run – I did 25 minutes @10kmph plus a five minute warm up, five minute cool down and stretching before and after. Which got me thinking about stretching, warm up/cool down routines and the importance of stretching before and after a workout.

Is it important to stretch before and after a workout? It sure feels good!

Do you always include stretching/warm up/cool down these when you workout? Or do you jump straight into the sweat sesh then rush off into your day once you finish? We’ve all heard before about the benefits of warming up properly before exercising and the importance of stretching after a workout but there are also arguments against this.

Cassandra Bernhart’s report; ‘A Review of Stretching Techniques and Their Effects on Exercise’ explains that the effects and techniques of stretching are still largely unknown due to so many variables including ‘genetics, level of training, or other factors’.

My post today is more about some of the excuses we have for not stretching and warming up/cooling down, even when we know it feels good! Let’s look at why it’s sometimes a challenge and what we can do about it!

I just want to get into it, on with it, out of it!

I find that I’m incredibly stiff and sore and feel like I’m going to snap something if I don’t warm up and stretch before working out. So I always diligently do my stretches, and the same with stretching after a workout – if I don’t stretch and cool down then my muscles feel so tight and sore later on! For me, this is the importance of stretching before and after a workout.

I used to have a friend who said they purposely didn’t stretch so that they felt sore afterwards, so that they felt like they’d done a workout. What the…??!!! That sounds like crazy talk to me.

But I do understand that sometimes it is hard to commit to a stretching session for various reasons. Here are 5 reasons stretching is hard and how we can kick laziness and impatience to the curb!

1 – I don’t need to

Do you feel better if you stretch after a workout? Some people say they feel no different and that they don’t need to. Or maybe you like to stretch afterwards but you don’t need to warm up before you exercise.

But is this really true or is it just an excuse?

Warming up properly can help prevent injuries and help you perform better. It’s likely that you’ll be able to get straight into your workout at a higher intensity. Try setting aside a couple of minutes to do some simple warm up moves first and some stretches after your session and see if you feel better.

This is how you reward your muscles for their hard work!

2 – I don’t have time

This one I can relate to. Adding an extra 5-10 minutes before and after your workout to stretch can really add to your allotted exercise time.

But it really is worth it! Get organised to make this part of your workout routine rather than viewing it as an additional commitment. Even just a couple of minutes is can be worthwhile. Your warm up is all about getting in the zone for a motivated, maximum effort workout – no ‘just going through the motions!’

Try setting a timer to help you stick with your stretching routine before and after exercise – and try to enjoy it! Stretching actually feels really good – think of it as your reward for your workout.

3 – It’s boring

Sometimes the slowness of warming up before your workout, and the slowness of stretching after your workout, can test your patience.

We want to use our exercise time for high energy workouts – activities that feel like they are getting results and turning up the burn, otherwise we’d rather be using our time to do something else!

Stretching sometimes takes real commitment and conscious effort to put the time in. Use your stretching session after your workout as a time for meditation. Try to avoid thinking about all the things you gotta do, avoid making lists in your head, and just focus on each movement.

Take some deep breaths and use this time to clear your head and embrace the good feeling of completing your workout.

4 – I get cold

As our body cools down after exercising and probably needs some fuel, I sometimes start to feel quite cold – especially in the Winter months. The hot shower beckons!

Make sure you have a sweater or jacket nearby, and a towel to wipe down and stop you from getting too cold. Keep drinking plenty of water – this is a great time to get your fluids up and keep moving through your stretches. Perhaps you can stretch inside or somewhere warm.

Don’t let this excuse stop you from stretching after you workout!

5 – I don’t know what to do

There are loads and loads of stretching resources on the interwebs – you can find videos to follow, or printables to use. After a while you will probably remember a lot of the stretches and be able to feel in your body where you need some extra stretching.

It can also be good to try some different routines and make sure no muscles are getting neglected. If you try Rachael Attard’s program, the exercise videos have some great warm up and cool down routines. They really seem to get to all the muscles, even ones I didn’t know I had.

I sometimes put the video on to do one of the warm up routine before going for a run because they’re so good and because of the importance of stretching before and after a workout.

End of week 6 check in!

Okay, I’m now at end of week 6 as part of my Lean Legs Program (Rachael Attard) review! Here is a quick update! I’m loving the exercise and feel I’ve built up some fitness and strength, even though the workouts are still quite challenging to me.

I haven’t missed a workout yet which I’m happy about, however I doubt I am hitting the 10k steps a day. Which is ok!

Food-wise I have a smoothie almost every morning, then tuna or chicken with beans or chickpeas, some fats and lots of veggies for lunch, and something similar or a curry or soup for dinner.

Snacks I’ve been having nuts, carrots, fruit, eggs and then peanut butter after dinner. Some days I’m sure I eat more than recommended (particularly the nuts and peanut butter!) but I feel great and am happy with the nutritious food I’m eating!

Who doesn’t love a good motivational quote!

I hope you all have a wonderful week planned, and here is a beautiful quote for you to make the most of today!

motivational quite to be positive and have a great day

From Lisa Waterman at Women Who Win at Life. She has more inspirational quotes to motivate and get you moving on her site, check it out! 😊

And don’t forget to do your stretches!

Do you have a favourite quote that lights you up or brings you joy? And do you love stretching or do you feel it is a waste of time?

Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the hardest thing about sticking to a nutrition or fitness program?

Here’s how to plan for the challenges you might face when trying to exercise and eat well.

Is it better to work out at home or at the gym?

There are some great full body at home workouts and online fitness programs available these days. Read why I think working out at home is better than the gym!

Marnie

3 thoughts on “The importance of stretching before and after a workout”

  1. I am really good about stretching if I am at a workout class, but if I am working out at home, not so much! My favorite excuse is that I don’t have enough time! I always regret not stretching though because my body ends up sore and tight!

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