• Is stretching really that effective after a workout?

    By The W10 Team
     

    Or does stretching actually slow down the recovery process?

    We stretch for lots of reasons: Because it feels good, because it’s part of our pre-workout routine, because a muscle is stiff and we think stretching will fix it. But most of what we know about stretching—and thus the ways we use it—are based on wishful thinking and outdated science.

    We’re stretching for all the wrong reasons.

    Static stretching is commonly prescribed post workout: holding a stretch position for up to 30 seconds before releasing. This type of stretching can help tone down the nervous system making the body feel more relaxed. For years this type of stretching has been thought to decrease the potential for muscle soreness and stiffness. But does post workout stretching actually help with recovery, and is there any research to back this up?

    Recent research is actually proving that post workout stretching has little to no effect on reducing soreness.

    Taking a look at the science…

    A study on post-exercise recovery techniques to reduce muscle damage, soreness, fatigue and inflammation concluded that stretching seemed to have little impact on this recovery process. In this study, massage was the most effective at reducing perceived fatigue and had the largest effect on DOMS post training. In terms of muscle damage and inflammation massage was deemed the most effective at reducing these signs, whereas stretching actually led to slightly larger increases in creatine kinase (a marker for muscle damage).

    Proving that stretching might not only be ineffective, it could actually slow down the recovery process.

    So what should you do if you’re feeling sore after sessions?

    1. Massage

    This study concluded that massage reduced DOMS and perceived fatigue post training. If you’re left feeling particularly sore it might be worth scheduling in a massage.
    If this isn’t an option try some SMR (Self Myofascial Release) with a foam roller; it might help to ease tightness, reduce inflammation and remove waste products from the working muscles to speed up the recovery process.

    2. Cool showers / baths

    While cold water immersion after training can lead to reduced muscle growth and strength gains, the study discovered that any water below body temperature is effective at promoting recovery. So while an ice bath may not be ideal if you’re trying to build lean muscle, having a cool or lukewarm bath is beneficial for recovery.

    3. Nail the recovery basics: sleep, hydration and nutrition

    Sleep is probably one of the cheapest and most underrated recovery strategies out there. Changes to your body for all your hard work in the gym actually happen while you sleep – muscle repair and growth are night time occurrences and if you’re not getting enough shut eye, you’re reducing your recovery potential.

    The same goes for what you put in your body. Alcohol will impair protein synthesis (the process by which small micro tears are repaired and muscle grows) – so if you drink after training it’s going to have a negative impact on muscle repair. Stay hydrated and fuel your body with predominantly whole, unprocessed foods that aren’t really high in sugar.

    4. Stay active – there’s always something you can do

    Staying active is going to help relax the muscles and remove the waste products from tissues.

    While you might feel sore and stiff after the previous day’s workout it is better to get some active recovery in to get the body moving: go for a walk or do some low intensity cardio (e.g. bike, swimming). And remember, you always have parts of the body that aren’t sore so you can still go to the gym and switch up your training to focus on another body part, or have a lighter session.

    While sitting on the sofa may feel like all you are up for, it’s probably the worst thing you can do for optimal recovery.

    Mobility and movement prep is key

    Mobility (strength and range of motion at a joint) is crucial to ensure that we keep our muscles and joints in good working order and help stay injury free. Mobility drills and activation at the beginning of a session are going to help prepare the body for your training session – this is something we include in every single one of our training sessions.

    Ensure that you do some mobility work and movement preparation (e.g. bodyweight squats / bear crawls) before jumping into working sets of high intensity activities. This will help prime your body for the session, maximising both performance and the recovery process.

    Some level of soreness is inevitable when training as your body responds to a new training stimulus, higher intensities or increased training volume. But instead of doing a quick static stretch at the end of your next workout, think about the after care process holistically, and what you can be doing around your training sessions to help promote more effective recovery.

 

You Might Also Like

 
Quick Browse
    • How to stay on track with fitness through december

      How to stay on track with your fitness goals this Christmas

       

      Our top tips to make sure you don’t fall off the wagon during December. Christmas can be a time when people undo all the hard work they’ve put in over the rest of the year and when good food and exercise habits tend to go out of the window. It doesn’t need to be like […]

      Read More
    • 10 HIIT workouts from homr

      10 Short and Simple HIIT workouts you can do from home

       

      Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that HIIT (High intensity interval training) is basically designed to get you in and out of the gym as fast as possible. HIIT gets your heart rate close to its max and then lets you rest briefly before you do it all again. By alternating between […]

      Read More
    • How to stay motivated in the winter

      How can I stay motivated to exercise during the winter months

       

      We don’t blame you for losing your motivation to exercise during the winter. With it being so dark by the time you leave the office after work, it’s hard to get fired up to do little more than cosy up with a glass of vino on the couch. Plus, with autumn well and truly here […]

      Read More
    • Over 50's fitness

      Training in your 50’s compared to your 30’s: does anything need to change?

       

      Can you delay or even reverse the ageing process with exercise? There’s no hiding from the fact that our bodies ultimately deteriorate with age. Everyday tasks become more of challenge and we don’t have the same energy that we used to. Without intervention and physical exercise, the body won’t perform as well as it once […]

      Read More
    • Training with back pain

      Can exercise banish lower back pain?

       

      Do you suffer with lower back pain? If so, can anything be done to alleviate it? It’s estimated that 2.5 million people in the UK experience back pain on any given day. That’s a shocking figure, but the good news is that movement can often alleviate the problem. Although it must be movement that’s managed […]

      Read More
    • Total Body workouts London

      Why you should focus on full body workouts

       

      There are many benefits to full body workouts, which is why we focus on this style of training at W10. There are a variety of ways you can structure or split up your workout routine and quite frankly with the amount of information out there at the minute, it can become overwhelming for anyone to […]

      Read More

Start Your 30 Day Trial Today

If you’re ready to make a change, you can start now. Register online and book your first session today.

Start Today

Set up in 2009 by founder Jean-Claude Vacassin (a regular health and fitness contributor to the Daily Telegraph) the W10 Performance gym is located in West London at 202-208 Kensal Road, London W10 5BN. W10’s Gym memberships offer personal training, nutrition advice, yoga, boxing, HITT and other functional fitness classes. They also have physio and sports massage practitioners onsite. They are proud to offer a high level of fitness to residents and local workers in Kensal Rise, Kensal Green, Queens Park, Willesden, Kilburn, Harlesden, Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill, Kensington and Westbourne Park areas.

 

Find us The Basement, 202-208 Kensal Road, London W10 5BN

Call us on 020 3489 5428