Take care of your body after you exercise and your body will benefit. It will help your muscles repair themselves and function well during exercise and while at rest. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends doing eight to 10 stretches twice per week. After exercise, the muscles are warm and are malleable--stretch or massage them to increase elongation, flexibility and to prevent delayed onset muscle soreness.
Static stretching (lengthening muscles while they are at rest) and regular massage release muscular tension, returning tight constricted muscles to their normal state of length. Increased flexibility can make activities of daily living such as bending over, standing, squatting or carrying items easier. Improvements in flexibility can improve sports performance. Loosening tight hamstrings can lead to improved speed, endurance and distance for a runner.
Massage and stretching help break down lactic acid, relieve tight muscles and improve blood circulation throughout the body. Blood carries oxygen to the muscles. Improved circulation means more accessible oxygen during a workout routine.
Pain Treatment and Pain Prevention
Tight muscles can lead to pains in different parts of the body. Tight glutes, hamstrings and quads can cause knee and hip soreness--treat the source of the problem and alleviate symptomatic pain and prevent future injury. Stretches and massages loosen up muscles and treat soreness related to tight muscles. Massaging and or stretching muscles that are used during exercise can help reduce or eliminate post-workout soreness. Athletes go through many repetitive motions when they participate in sports--a pitcher who stretches or gets a massage after a game can reduce pain he will experience after the game.
Greater Range of Motion
When muscles are in their relaxed and natural states, joints can go through their normal range of motion. Tight muscles create imbalances that may prevent joints from going through their proper range of motion. Stretches and massages break down tight muscles, lessening imbalances and returning muscles to their original state. Improvements in range of motion can increase exercise performance and prevent injury and pain during a workout. For example, if a swimmer wants to improve speed and force, he will need proper range of motion of his shoulders and his ankles.
Elimination of Toxins
During exercise, the body accumulates lactic acid which contributes to muscle soreness and early fatigue during a workout. Stretching or getting a massage will help break up lactic acid and remove it from the muscles.