Stretch It Out
It’s me again, your Resident Barbell Goddess, and today I’m going to discuss the importance of stretching and foam rolling after your workouts. Okay so first off I was never an avid stretcher. I hated stretching and avoided it if I could. Well after a couple of close calls to serious injuries, I am now an avid stretcher. Stretching is so important because it wakes up your muscles and makes sure they are nice and relaxed before you start your workouts. For your stretching you should hold each stretch for about 30-45 seconds to get a good stretch of the muscle. You should also do some light calisthenics after your stretching to get your blood pumping. Some great options for calisthenics are Jumping Jacks, High Knees or Butt Kickers. Any one of these will get you blood pumping and your muscles warmed up.
Personally I like Jumping Jacks mainly because it’s my sons favorite thing to do. So when he notices me stretching he immediately asks to do Jumping Jacks with me when I’m done. I love when he wants to join in on my workouts. It assures me that I’m setting a good example when it comes to taking care of your body and your health.
So depending on which muscles you’re going to focus on during your workouts that will determine which stretches you will do to prepare your body for the pain and hard work you are about to put it through. Personally, I like to do a whole body stretch cause with my current workouts I usually end up working all of my muscles at some point. Whether it’s leg day, arms, shoulders or back I’m prepared for anything.
I know for me I hated stretching because I felt like it too time away from my workouts. Typically my stretching lasts anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes depending on how sore I am from the day before. So if you think 5 or 10 minutes is too long and/or pointless, well I bet you won’t sing that same tune once you have a slight tare in your Achilles tendon. Let me tell you it isn’t fun sleeping in a boot designed to stretch your leg while you sleep so that your tendon can heal itself. That was the worse 8 weeks of my life. Then by the end of it there was still no guarantee that my tendon would repair itself. And those 8 weeks were a huge set back for me, because I didn’t go back to lifting for a year afterwards.
The sad part was that after those 8 weeks my tendon was healed, but I had gotten comfortable with not doing anything. So I continued to do nothing and didn’t focus on my fitness at all. Most think that I’ve always had the determination and drive that I now have, but it’s quite the opposite. So please, please stretch before your workouts because you never know what could happen.
I didn’t discover foam rolling until about mid January of this year. I began to have awful knee pain during my squats, deadlifts and lunges and once again I was afraid. I didn’t want to stop my workouts so I pushed through the pain and did what I could. I would take extra rest days in between my leg days and ice my knees whenever I could, but the pain wouldn’t go away. See I already have bad knees and arthritis so I have to wrap my knees for nearly all of my workouts. It’s awful to hear your knees crack every time they bend, but like I said I didn’t let it stop me. I wrapped my knees, took ibuprofen and kept going.
One week it hurt to even do my day to day activities so I asked my husband what he thought I could do. He wrapped my knee this way and that and then asked me to squat and the pain was nearly gone. So my issue was yet again another tendon issue. He suggested that I begin doing foam rolling to workout the tightness in my quads, hamstrings and calves in order to keep my tendon from pulling. So I got a basic Foam Roller and looked up on-line how this whole thing worked and let me tell you that is a pain that hurts so good. So I started incorporating foam rolling at the end of all of my workouts and before I knew it my pain was gone. Now I still hear the cracking sounds every time my knees bend, but nothing can really be done about arthritis.
Foam Rolling is super easy to do and you can use it for any part of your body. I just prefer doing it for my legs because it’s where 90% of my pain comes from. When I do my foam rolling I make sure to dedicate 2-3 minutes to each muscle I’m working on. Like I said earlier I always do my foam rolling after my workouts, but I also like to do another session before bed so that I can make sure to work out all of the tightness before I rest my body for the day.
Foam Rollers are typically inexpensive depending on what brand and size you are looking for. Amazon has a great selection of various foam rollers and their deals are fairly priced and reasonable. I have a couple one is larger and a basic foam roller it looks like a tube of thick dense styrofoam, but the other is for a deep tissue massage. I like to use that one on my heavy lift days because that’s when my legs are really sore. You can also buy other products similar to foam rollers to work on your back, shoulder, arms, feet, etc. that is if you don’t want to use your foam roller for those.
The spiky massage ball is typically used to alleviate pain caused by Plantar Fasciitis. But you could also use it on your back. What you could do is place the ball between you and a wall and then just use your body to roll it around the muscle. The Muscle Roller Stick you could use on any muscle from your legs to your back. There are also various videos and books you can buy on-line that help demonstrate how to uses various foam rolling tools.
I hope my @home workouts, fitness tips and eating habits have been helpful. As always consult your doctor or a healthcare professional before any exercises you are wanting to preform and be sure to seek the aid of a healthcare professional if you are experiencing any kind of pain during your workouts. Also feel free to leave me any questions or comments you may have and happy lifting!
Your Resident Barbell Goddess