Why stretching reduces soreness for exercise and daily activities – Cassy Vieth of ‘Quick Fit’ explains
January 19, 2022 Leave a Comment
Written by Cassy Vieth
Ah! That 2-day delayed onset of soreness after a particularly hard workout or even from an activity you just haven’t done lately. It really makes for a miserable couple of days and reminds you of your age! But what’s to be done? Plan ahead!
For instance if you love to garden, but you know the first week is going to be a killer after months of reduced activity, you can take action now to reduce soreness and get over it quicker!
Daily stretching along with simple strengthening will work wonders. You wouldn’t spontaneously go into the gym and lift weights for two hours or hike the Grand Canyon without training for it. So too, the gardening season, with all its lifting, reaching, bending and hauling — it requires conditioning.
Winter is typically a less active time of year. Even if you are active, every activity requires different muscle recruitment patterns. Stretching is important.
Remember, muscles that are tight are weak. Simply stretching a muscle for 30-60 seconds each day will help bring it back to its ideal length, making more of the tissue available for contracting and allowing greater mobility in the joint. Once these tight muscles are corrected, their opposing muscles are then freed up to be strengthened and brought back to their ideal length, further increasing the flexibility — and strength — of the targeted joint.
Next, there is something called tissue viscosity. Your muscle tissue contains fluid. This fluid can be thick, or viscous, but stretching reduces the viscosity, requiring less energy to move. That’s why when you first wake up in the morning, you feel stiff and it takes greater effort to get moving.
Looser, more flexible muscles also absorb more force, leading to injury reduction. Imagine a bowling ball thrown down on a hard, wooden bowling lane. Do it often enough, and something is going to break. Now imagine throwing that same bowling ball onto a trampoline. The trampoline gives nicely, and it will continue to absorb the force of that bowling ball far longer than the hard wooden floor. This is a picture of your muscles. Tight muscles don’t absorb forces from the ground as well or as long as loose, fluid filled muscles.
The body is amazing. The more you stretch, the more tolerance you gain for the discomfort of stretching. It’s even been found that endorphins and pain killers are released in the process!
Strengthening your muscles ahead of time by getting them accustomed to the work they will be doing will make the work less painful, and you will be able to do it longer. So don’t put it off! You have so much to gain by a little self care each day.