Releasing Tension: The Importance of Stretching after Exercising

Kate Markus, Life Editor

With the ongoing surge in popularity of exercising, specifically in terms of weight training, it is crucial to recognize the importance of stretching and the implementation of beneficial post-workout habits. Working out is a critical practice for everyone, no matter one’s age or goals.

“Working out makes me feel so much more productive and is a major source of endorphins for me,” Miami Palmetto Senior High sophomore Vance Schroeder said.

Stretching before a workout helps prevent injury and soreness and aids in the process of gradual relaxation to ensure both one’s mind and body is prepared to continue through the day.

“The days when I stretch, I walk out of the gym so much more calm and ready to continue my day,” Palmetto sophomore Lucas Gomez said. “I work out multiple times a week, so I need to do everything possible to reduce muscle strain, and I feel that stretching does just that.”

Palmetto sophomore Mia Tamayo, who regularly visits the gym, also recognizes the benefits of stretching after working out.

“Working out is an outlet for me to focus on myself and not have to worry about anything else going on,” Tamayo said. “I feel that stretching after working out limits the strain on my body and makes me less sore than I otherwise would be in the following days.”

Here are some forms of stretching to do before and after a workout:

1. Cat-Cow stretch

Starting on one’s hands and knees, inhale deeply while curving one’s back and slanting one’s head up to imitate the “cow” pose. Then, switch to doing the “cat” pose, arching your spine and bringing one’s head down. This exercise, when done properly, improves blood circulation between the vertebrae of one’s spine, releasing back pain. This stretch also proves beneficial mentally, aiding in relaxation after a hard workout.

2. The Butterfly Pose

The butterfly stretch, a pose designed to relax the hips, is suitable for all ages and skill levels. Promoting a sense of calm, one can create the butterfly pose by sitting on the floor or a cushion and bending one’s knees, pressing the soles of your feet together. 

3. Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose is a gentle stretch for the back, hips, thighs and ankles that aids in reducing back pain. Begin this pose on hands and knees before proceeding to stretch out with one’s stomach between one’s thighs and arms as far out as possible.

4. Side Lunge

Targeting the hips and hamstrings, side lunges help to loosen and relax the body. Start in a wide stance with toes angled outward, and then begin shifting your weight back and forth from hip to hip. This stretch also helps to strengthen the inner thigh and glutes.

5. Hip Opener

As the name suggests, this stretch loosens the hips and prevents muscle strain. Beginning in a high plank position, bring your right foot to the outside of your right hand, and then switch to your left, holding each lunge for 30 seconds. Repeat this movement until you feel stretched out and relaxed.

6. Knees to chest

Perfect for before a workout, this stretch aids in waking up one’s body to prepare for intense exercise. Lying on your back, alternate bending and straightening each leg respectively, bringing them into your chest. This lower back stretch can also help improve posture if done consistently and properly.