Last year I did 5000 lunges to raise money for a good cause. Last week, I finished up the last of 4000 lunges from our 300 Club Lunge Challenge. Through both challenges, there was one big difference. The level of soreness and pain that I felt this time around was remarkably less than last year. As much as I enjoyed those first 5000 lunges, many nights my body screamed in pain. I had sciatic pain that kept me from sleeping and hip pain that made me walk a little bit funny. So what did I do differently? I took the time to stretch.
I have never been good at stretching. It takes too much time and it’s boooooooring. Recently though I have realized that stretching is just as important as the workout, if not more so. Now I spend at least 15 minutes at the end of each workout stretching and using a foam roller. Static stretching at the end of a workout should be slow and controlled. Hold each stretch for a minimum of 20-30 seconds (any shorter than that and the muscle will fight the stretch).
Working a muscle makes it stronger, but it can also produce knots in the process. Sometimes stretching isn’t enough. Have you ever seen those long foam tubes at the gym and wondered what they were for? Those weird cylinders are called foam rollers, and they are there to massage the knots right out of your aching muscles. I typically use a foam roller at the end of each workout and make sure to hit every part of my legs along with my upper back. If you have never used one, check out this reference guide from Perform Better. If you don’t belong to a gym, you can buy a foam roller at Target or online at sites like Perform Better or Amazon.
Getting in a good stretch and self-massage at the end of a hard workout is the best thing you can do for yourself. Take it from me, the new Queen of Stretching!
Do you stretch?
Do you use a foam roller?