Stretching and warming up before and after a workout has always been a struggle for me. Finding time to get a workout in can be difficult as a new mom so the thought of cutting into my exercise time with warming up and stretching afterwards is not something I want to do.
So why is warming up the muscles so important? Hmm, let’s ask my lower back! (Which is currently on the fritz!)
Warming up the muscles should be done before stretching or performing a workout. It will gradually build up your heart rate and increase blood flow to the muscles. A warm up can simply be a replication of the exercise you are about to do but a much slower pace.S
Stretching should never hurt. A stretch should be maintained and held for 10 – 30 seconds. Holding a stretch for less time wont sufficiently lengthen the muscles. Holding a stretch too long may also have a negative impact.
I did not do EITHER of these things the other day when I decided to do some dead lifts and squats before a short run. The next day I could feel my lower back starting to hurt. I believed this was because my legs were so tight and needed stretching.
I had my husband stretch me and I think that only made things worse. (Tight muscles all the sudden being stretched out before any type of warming up = BAD) Later in the night I could barely walk and could feel my lower back spasming. Maybe this was a strained muscle situation, not just tightness. All of this could have been avoided if I had just properly prepped my body before beginning the exercising!
I gave myself a day or two to rest and ice and then thought, hey a massage will probably help too! So what did I do? Went to a Thai Massage Parlor not knowing what a traditional Thai Massage entailed. (Woman standing on my back, pulling my arms behind me, assisted yoga stretching and deep tissue pressing.)
So here we are almost 5 days since my workout and I am forced to rest. If only I had set aside 10 minutes before and after my workout to actually warm up and stretch. I am now losing a week of workouts due to my impatience. Let this be a lesson to us all and take care of your body stretch by stretch!