If you want to enjoy the benefits of your work out and maintain longevity of your body it is important that you need to stretch after an intense workout session. When you work-out, your muscles naturally lengthen, contract and build lactic acid. As your muscles fatigue they remain can remain contracted and the build of of lactic acid remain. When your muscle feels tense or in a contracted position, you will feel that your range of motion decrease. Over a period, if you do not stretch it can lead to developing stress points and weaknesses in certain muscles as well as your fascia (the connecting tissue between muscle and bone).
This tightness limits your range of motion, and sometimes if your muscles are really tense you can damage them. In addition, when one muscle is very tense, it can restrict your movement causing additional stresses to other surrounding muscles. Often, this is how small complication gets compounded to a much more serious issue.
Here are some reasons why stretching is so important:
1) Stretching Reduces Lower Back Pains
If you are in a seated position all day, or work a desk job you may have experienced some hamstring tensions, or you feel your hamstrings become numb. This can eventually lead to tension in your hip flexors, which can result in lower back pains.
Have you ever wondered why this happens?
Well, when we are in a seated position our hips are in an anterior pelvic position. In this position, your body creates a natural pull on your hamstring which causes your hip flexors to be tight. Your hip flexors are connected to your lumbar vertebrae which will pull on your lumbar vertebrae and cause lower back pains.
This can be easily solved by stretching and relaxing the hamstring and hip flexor muscles.
2) Helps Improve Your Work-out
Your range of motion is related to how well your body can move. Your squat depth, ability to touch your toes, or even do things such as reaching up to retrieve something overhead of you. If you have stiffness in your body, you may not be able to move properly. This is going to affect your work-out, as if you can’t fully perform a squat, then you won’t get the full benefits from it.
3) It Prevents Future Injuries
When you have a proper range of motion, your everyday tasks won’t be as difficult for you. For example, if you bend over to pick something up you risk pulling your back muscle if its very tense. However, when you stretch and are familiar with that position, your chances of pulling your back reduces.
4) It Gives You a Chance to Calm Your Mind
By slowing down, and taking 15 minutes to go through a stretching routine, it can also give your mind a chance to take a small break. Working out can be tough (different from the work type of stress that causes cortisol’s) so having 15 minutes at the end of your work-out gives you a chance to cool down, reflect and look back at your workout. It also let you feel your body to see if there are any injuries that you might need to address.
Essential Hip Flexor Stretches
In my exercise guide on page 42 you have a list of stretches that you can do. I am going to give you two stretches that you should do if you have tight hip flexors as lower back pains from sitting too much (tight hips) is one of the most common problems I see.
1) Pigeon Pose
Start on your hands and feet in a push up position. Bring 1 leg up beside you to get into the runners pose, lay that leg flat on the ground across of you. Lean forward as far as you can while feeling the stretch in your glute. Hold for 30 seconds then repeat on the other side.
2) Couch Stretch
Start by getting into a lunge position (on one knee, with the other leg bent). Reach back and grab the leg. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in you hip flexor and/or quad.