As a former professional ballet dancer I know just how important it is to incorporate a stretching routine into your workout schedule. Since I recommend thirty minute training sessions to the majority of of my San Diego personal training clients, stretching is often something that is left as a “homework” assignment. The following are a few rules to keep in mind while stretching.
Rule #1: Never stretch BEFORE your workout – Scientific studies, my experience as a professional athlete, and my expertise as a personal trainer have proven that stretching before a workout can actually increase risk of injury and overuse. What you should do in place of stretching is a proper warm-up routine.
Rule #2: Don’t over do it – Your trainer knows just what stretches you might need to do before leaving your session. If you feel like you need more time to stretch, let your trainer know. Sometimes stretching is best left for later in the evening. Ask your trainer what stretching program might be best for your specific needs.
Rule #3: Work the kinks out before bed – If your muscles are feeling heavy, tight or fatigued before bed you might want to do some light stretching to ease the soreness you may feel in the morning.
Rule #4: Monitor your nutrition – Be sure to stay hydrated and steer clear of alcohol after long workouts. Consuming alcoholic beverages or foods high in fat can lead to muscle cramps or spasms if you are not careful. Have a protein shake in the evening to help aid in muscle repair and recovery during the night hours.
Remember, you are in charge of what happens after you leave your training session. Stretching and healthy eating are your responsibility to maximize your fitness goals!