You’ve heard it before, and I’m saying it again. No workout is complete without a good 15-minute stretch before AND after it. Going for a run? Stretch out those hammies, calves, quads, and abs ahead of time. Post-workout, muscles need the chance to repair themselves again, too. It will speed up your “recovery time” and you’ll feel less sore tomorrow. Just like (or unlike) anyone else, I enjoy being sore the next day after a workout. It makes me feel like I did something in a “hurting so good” kind of way. But if your muscles take too long to recover, you’re going to end up messing up your entire workout routine. You have to break down the lactic acid build-up before your body can start to recover.
Eighteen years of gymnastics has taught me that avoiding injuries is another good reason to stretch. It helps your flexibility and reflexibility. Reflexibility? Yes. It’s the body’s defense mechanism to overextension (and there’s a lot of overextending in gymnastics). Holding a stretch for a prolonged period of time really does help your muscles gain a fuller range of motion.
So stop worrying about people judging while you stretch and bend around the gym. You’re going to feel odd at first, and you probably think that everyone’s watching you. But I guarantee that they’re too busy watching their own calorie-counter and the clock on the wall to notice. So just suck it up and do it. It’s for your own good.
Not sure where to start post-workout? Then watch this “How to Cool Down and Stretch after a Workout for Dummies” video here: