Now, you may not know this about me, but I am a professional nag. Not only do I massage people, but I also nag them, gently, about self-care they know they should be doing. Here are some examples: “Did you do those stretches we talked about during your last session?” or “How many times were you able to fit self-massage in since your came in last?”
A large portion of my “suggestions” to people includes stretching. Stretching is a tremendous positive force on the body. It opens up muscles, increases blood flow, keeps tissues moving independently of one another, and allows for more natural posture.
But one of the biggest myths of stretching is that you should be stretching before you exercise. This article breaks it down: Stretching: When and How to Effectively Stretch | TweakFit.
If you’re stretching when you exercise, make sure you stretch after your workout, not before. When you exercise, you contract your muscles, and contracting a muscle puts it into a shortened state. Once you’re done, your target muscles have been contracted and shortened by the workout, and you want to remind your muscles that the short, tight state is not their new homebase.
Stretching lengthens the muscles after a workout, putting them into a more flexible state, and prevents them from resetting their default length to a short state.
Did you catch that? Stretch AFTER, not before exercise. (Just a little friend advice from your friendly, neighborhood massage nag.)
Photo from Flickr CCL: jurvetson