Friday, August 21, 2009

Is stretching before workouts a waste of time?

At my daily blog, The Daily Balance, I’m all about saving time. I LOVE cheating shortcuts and I HATE wasting time. All of our time is precious and I hate wasting it on things I don’t find valuable or necessary. The darling Mister on the other hand? He loves wasting to take his time. I often call him slowpoke, or slug man (I say this in love, people). He’s meticulous! He takes his time to do things right, because the way he sees it, if you do it right the first time (no matter how long it takes), you save yourself time and aggravation in the end. HA, I think to myself, what an idiot! A complete fool! I’m the complete opposite. I get things done. Bottom line. Because really, if the result is the same, why take 5 extra steps to get there? Is either way right or wrong? Well, in some cases, yes, and others…well, not so much

Let’s take a look at our morning workout routine as an example. I wake up, throw my hair back, step into my exercise clothes and tennis shoes and am ready to go. The Mister eases out of bed, get’s ready at the rate of an 80-year-old man and creates a playlist for himself on his iPhone. Meanwhile, I’ve been impatiently huffing and gruffing at the door. We finally get to the gym, he’s in a great mood and I’m extremely annoyed ready to burn off some energy. So far? Mister - 1, Me - 0. You’re smart people, you see where this is going.

Listen up Mister, because I’m only going to admit say this once. Sometimes it pays off to slow down a little bit. This brings me to the next step in our workout routine — stretching. How many of you stretch before AND after your workouts? Personally, I could take it or leave it. I’ve always seen this step as a time-waster and (don’t tell the mister) but if he’s not with me I normally skip over it to save myself some time. The Mister? He always takes an obnoxiously long period of time the appropriate time to stretch. So how important is stretching, anyway? Well, I did a bit of research and the findings are irrefutable. You guessed it: Mister - 2, Me -0

According to an article from the Mayo Clinic, “stretching is a powerful part of any exercise program.” Yeah, Yeah, but I’ve heard this before. Why is it important and why should I care? Well, “stretching your muscles helps you maximize the range of motion of your joints. This allows you to fully contract your muscles. Stretching can also prevent little tears in a muscle or tendon that occur when you force a joint to go through its full range of motion when the tissues are too tight.”

Still need convincing?

Consider this (Mayo Clinic):

  • Stretching increases flexibility. Flexible muscles can improve your daily performance. Tasks such as lifting packages, bending to tie your shoes or hurrying to catch a bus become easier and less tiring.

  • Stretching improves range of motion of your joints. Good range of motion keeps you in better balance, which will help keep you mobile and less prone to falls - and the related injuries - especially as you age.

  • Stretching improves circulation. Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles. Improved circulation can speed recovery after muscle injuries.

  • Stretching can relieve stress. Stretching relaxes the tense muscles that often accompany stress.

Some studies indicate that stretching helps prevent athletic injuries as well. However, this finding remains controversial. Other studies don’t support stretching as a way to prevent injury.

Alright, so we’ve identified that stretching is important, but which stretches are worth doing? I’m not about to waste my time going through every single stretch, that’s for sure! I need the ‘must-haves’ for stretching.

Well, the Mayo Clinic put together a slide show, showcasing ten stretches that will stretch all major muscle groups. 10 stretches? I can handle that.

Men’s Health also put a list together, highlighting the best post-workout stretches.

Over the past few weeks, I have been taking the appropriate time to stretch with the Mister before and after our workouts. Do I notice a difference? Not really. But I feel good knowing that I’m doing something good for my body. I’ll also admit that the stretching feels good, which is a plus, and I also find I’m in a better mood with the Mister because I don’t get annoyed waiting for him really enjoy our time stretching together (love you, honey).

What about you? Do you stretch before your workouts? Do you notice a difference if you don’t?

Shannon is founder and creator of The Daily Balance, a Web site updated daily with advice, tips and personal stories to help other find balance in their lives. From food and fashion to fitness, inspiration, recipes and motivation, The Daily Balance is the perfect tool for those who "want it all."

[photo credit: Getty Images]

No comments:

Post a Comment