The moment you go on a run, the body produces lactic acid which makes the muscles fatigued and sore. Hence, it is important to stretch as stretching eliminates the lactic acid that has accumulated inside the body and relaxes the muscle
Post-run is a great time to stretch because your muscles will be warmed up. These stretches target areas that frequently get tight during and after running. Make them part of your post-run routine to help improve your flexibility, comfort, and performance. I am going break down for you, five essential stretches you should be doing, that can help to prevent DOMS and minor injuries are running
This hamstring stretch feels great, and it's easier on your back than the bending-over stretch. Here's what to do:
1. Lie on your back with your legs extended and your back straight. Make sure your lower back is on the floor and your hips are level.
2. Bend your left knee and keep your left leg extended on the floor.
3. Slowly straighten your right knee, grabbing the back of your leg with both hands.
4. Gently pull your right leg towards you while keeping your hips on the floor. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat on your left side.
If straightening your leg is too difficult, you can also do this stretch with a bent knee.
Your quadriceps (front thighs) are powerful muscles that work hard when you're running, so it's important that you stretch them. Here's what to do:
1. Stand straight (don't lean forward), lift the foot of your cramping leg up behind you, and grab your foot with your hand on that side.
2. Pull your heel gently toward your butt, feeling a stretch in your quad.
3. Keep your other leg straight and try to keep your knees as close together as possible.
4. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Release and repeat. Switch legs and repeat steps on the other leg.
Your calf muscles work hard when you're running, so they'll need a good stretch when you're done. Stretching your calves can also help prevent shin splints. Here's what to do:
1. To begin, stand facing up a flight of stairs or exercise step.
2. Position yourself so that the ball of your foot and your toes are on the edge of the step. You can hold a railing or wall for extra support.
3. Drop the heel of one foot toward the ground, while bending the knee of the opposite leg. You should feel the stretch in the calf of the leg dropping the heel.
5. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat with the opposite side.
This is a great stretch for your hip flexor muscles, which work hard lifting your legs up during running. Here's what to do:
1. Step into a lunge position.
2. Keep your toes pointed forward and your upper torso straight. Your back leg should be straight back behind you.
3. Press down with your hands and extend the hips forward until you feel a stretch from the front of your hip and the top of your thigh (of your back leg).
4. Hold 30 to 60 seconds, then switch sides.
If you talk with most people in the fitness world, they will tell that 3 out every 10 persons that started an exercise program to lose weight only to find their weight going up. That change in the scale doesn't necessarily mean you're doing anything wrong, nor does it mean you're going in the wrong direction. There can be some obvious and not-so-obvious reasons you're gaining weight.
Are You Really Gaining Fat?
Your first step is to determine if what you're gaining is fat, muscle, or water.
Muscle is denser than fat, but it takes up less space. That means if you gain muscle, your scale weight may go up even as you're slimming down. It's normal for you to lose inches, even if you're not losing weight.
Another culprit is water retention. There's a theory that the body will retain water when you exercise, not only as part of the healing process but also as a method of getting glycogen to the body in a more efficient way. That more efficient fuel system means you may carry around a few extra pounds of water.1
Either way, the scale can't tell you any of this, which is why it isn't always the best way to measure progress. One option is to forget the scale, at least for a little while, and get your body fat tested. You can do with a home body fat scale, or by a trainer at your gym.
If these aren't options, take measurements at different areas of the body on a regular basis. If you're losing inches, you're on the right track.
5 Reasons You May Be Gaining Weight on an Exercise Program
If you've measured yourself in different ways and realized you really are going in the wrong direction, take some time to go through the following possibilities—you may need to make some small changes in your diet to see better results.
You're Eating Too Many Calories
It may seem obvious, but people sometimes eat more after starting an exercise program to compensate for burning those extra calories. You may think you're eating a healthy, lower-calorie diet but, unless you're keeping a food diary, you don't know how many calories you're really eating.
Most people are surprised when they start keeping a journal and begin adding up the calories. It almost always turns out to be more than they thought. Keep a food diary for at least a week or use an app or online tracking site like MyFitnessPal or Fit Watch to get a sense of what and how much you're eating.
If you discover you are eating too many calories, you can make changes in your diet to reduce your calories. Try to avoid the mindset that says you can eat whatever you want since you're doing all this great exercise. To lose weight, you still need to monitor your calories.
You're Not Eating Enough Calories
It may seem counterintuitive but eating too few calories can stall your efforts to lose fat.
As Cathy Leman, a registered dietitian and creator of Nutri Fit! says, "...if there is a severe restriction in calories, the body may counteract this reduction by slowing down its metabolism."
Be sure you're eating enough calories to sustain your body, especially if you've increased your activity.
You're Not Giving Your Body Time to Respond
Just because you start exercising doesn't always mean your body will respond to that immediately.
As Cathy Leman puts it, "...in some instances the body needs to sort of 'recalibrate' itself. Increased activity and new eating habits, such as taking in more or fewer calories require the body to make adjustments."
Give yourself several weeks, even months to allow your body to respond to what you're doing. You didn't gain weight overnight, and you won’t lose it overnight either. You must exercise and reduce calories most of the time to really see significant changes. That means, weight loss isn't always a linear process.
Sometimes you'll lose and then something happens, sickness or injury, that changes your plans and sets you back a bit. That's normal and something you must build into your plan.
You Have an Underlying Medical Condition
If you really believe you're eating less and exercising more, creating the calorie deficit you need to lose weight, now is the time to talk to your doctor,
While not everyone has thyroid problems, they can cause weight gain and weight loss to be more challenging.
You'll also want to discuss any medications you're taking that could affect your body's ability to lose weight.2
Keep in mind that age can also be a factor in slow weight loss. It's unfortunate that getting older means it's that much harder to lose weight as your metabolism changes. It's nothing you're doing wrong, just one more thing to pay attention to.
You're Gaining Muscle Faster Than You're Losing Fat
If it seems that you're getting bigger after you've started a weight training routine, it may be because you aren't losing body fat as fast as you're building muscle—a common problem.
Genetics can play a role; some people put on muscle more easily than others. If that's the case for you, don't stop training. Instead, you might simply adjust your program to make sure you're getting enough cardio exercise to promote weight loss and focus your strength training workouts on muscular endurance by keeping the reps between 12 to 16.
Whatever is the cause of your weight gain, don't give up on exercise. It's often a temporary situation that will correct itself if you just keep going and, if it doesn't, don't give up all that great exercise time you've collected.
Consider hiring a trainer or meeting with a dietitian to help you tweak your workouts and diet. Sometimes, all you need are a few different changes.
Most people you come across in the gym, know that they need to keep hydrated in order to stay energised.
But it can be easy to underestimate how much hydration can affect your workout. It doesn’t help that there are so many contradictory statistics about how much water we’re meant to drink each day, and how frequently.
Now the question is what are we supposed to believe?
Tranquillity 360 fitness thought it was time to set the record straight. Here’s our definitive guide on how you can stay hydrated before, during and after a workout.
Effects of dehydration on the body
You’d be forgiven for believing that only considerable dehydration can have a detrimental effect on exercise; we’re talking headaches, excessive perspiration and general aches.
But did you know that a mere 2% reduction in fluids can result in a 10-20% degradation in performance? That means your performance can be sapped even when you don’t feel dehydrated at all.
The tell-tale signs of dehydration are thirst and dark-coloured urine. It can also cause digestive issues and constipation, and can even make you feel hungrier, because a dehydrated brain confuses hunger and thirst. When you spot any of these symptoms, your body needs some water.
The amount of water you should drink per day depends on several variables, not least the level of activity you plan to undertake. For example, a marathon runner will obviously have different requirements to somebody who is doing a 30-minute weights session in the gym.
The weather can also make a big difference, too, since you’ll sweat a lot more in warmer conditions.
General guidelines suggest that you should drink at least 2 litres of water per day. You should increase this by 500ml per hour of intense training and increase this again if you tend to sweat a lot when you exercise.
How much water should You drink before exercising?
This is where a lot of people come unstuck. Most people are good at taking water to the gym with them for a mid-workout refreshment, but it’s even more important to make sure you’ve topped up your fluid levels prior to your session.
You're most dehydrated when you wake up, so start the day with a tall glass of water and avoid coffee if you can. Having drinks regularly throughout the day will make a huge difference in your energy levels by the time you’re ready to work out.
Getting enough water on board when you’re in full flow might be easier said than done, but it’s imperative that you don’t allow your levels to dip.
A short water break between sets or during quick breaks from cardio can help stave off exercise-induced dehydration, keeping you at your best for consistently high performance.
An easy way to ensure you get enough water is to set a timer -- on your phone or watch -- to go off every 15 minutes as a reminder to rehydrate. This is especially important if you’re doing exercise over a long period of time, such as training for a marathon.
What should you drink during a workout?
Not that we were expecting you to have a gin and slimline tonic on-the-go between each set of assisted pull-ups, but nevertheless, it’s worth reiterating that plain old water is the most suitable drink to have on hand during your workout.
Of course, it all depends on the length and intensity of your workout.
Electrolytes are minerals that, amongst other things, regulate the level of water in your body. A regular gym session probably doesn't require a fancy sports drink but long-distance runners or those who train with great intensity would do well to replenish their electrolytes.
What to eat and drink after a workout
While many of us fail to take hydration into account before our workouts, even more of us let ourselves down after an exercise session.
Drinking 50% more fluid than you lost through sweat will help to boost your recovery. The fastest way to recover is sipping small amounts of water regularly, rather than guzzling down litre after litre in one go.
You should also ensure that 20% of your water intake comes from solid foods. Opting for foods that are naturally high in water content -- like cucumbers, tomatoes and celery -- can help you recover more quickly post-workout.
4 ways to spot dehydration during your workout
As we’ve already alluded to, our bodies can play tricks on us when our fluid levels start to drop. We have four tips to help you recognise the effects of dehydration before it starts to become a problem.
1. Check your muscles
Muscle cramps are a giveaway that you’re not hydrated enough. If you start to feel cramp coming on, take a break to have a drink. Don’t guzzle it down; instead, opt for short, small sips over a few minutes.
Once you’re refueled, ease yourself back into your exercise, being careful not to overdo it: it can take a while for your muscles to fully rehydrate.
2. Don’t ignore a dry mouth
One of the first signs of dehydration is dry mouth. As soon as your mouth starts feeling a little dusty, get a drink. Ignoring dry mouth can seriously impact your performance.
3. Pinch yourself
Skin elasticity, which is the skin’s ability to change shape and return to normal, is a giveaway of your hydration levels (though it’s not 100% reliable for everyone). Gently pinch the skin on the back of your hand and hold for a few seconds. If the skin takes a while to return to its normal position when you let go, you may be dehydrated.
4. Stop if you feel dizzy
Feeling lightheaded during a workout is a sign of dehydration and a signal to take your workout down a notch.
Though willpower sometimes makes us want to push ourselves through a few more reps or another mile, feeling dizzy is an indicator that your brain isn’t getting the oxygen it needs. You should stop exercising the moment you feel dizzy; powering through a dizziness spell can be dangerous.
The shoulder is the body's most complicated joint. It's where the ends of the collarbone, upper arm bone, and shoulder blade meet. And it's prone to arthritis (a wearing away of the cartilage between the bones), as well as tears or tendinitis (inflammation) in the rotator cuff — the group of tendons that helps you raise and rotate your arm. Shoulder pain can keep you from being able to raise your arms to get dressed or reach up to a cupboard or out to a door.
But an easy way to stave off shoulder problems is to regularly stretch the muscles that support the joints. "The muscles need to be long and flexible to stay healthy. You're more vulnerable to injury when your shoulder muscles are tight and restricted," explains Clare Safran-Norton, clinical supervisor of rehabilitation services at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.
How stretching helps
Muscles are a little like cotton fabrics. They may shrink up slightly, but if you pull on the fibers, you can stretch out the fabric again.
Stretching your muscles fixes the shortening that occurs with disuse and extends muscles to their full length. The more you stretch the muscles, the longer and more flexible they'll become. That will help increase your range of motion, ward off pain, reduce the risk for injury, and improve your posture.
Types of stretches
The best way to stretch muscles is with long, static (motionless) stretches that last 30 seconds to two minutes. But don't jump right to this step.
Warm up the muscles first to get blood and oxygen to them and make them more pliable. You can do this with exercise (take a brisk walk, pumping your arms, or go for a swim). Or you can try a few minutes of dynamic stretching — repeatedly moving a joint through its available range of motion, without holding a position. Just roll your shoulders backward and forward a few times or make windmill motions with your arms (but not too vigorously).
Safran-Norton says that stretches should be gentle and pain-free. "If there's pain, you may be injuring your muscles," she notes.
She also warns never to bounce your stretched muscles, which can cause injury and keep you from a productive stretch. "Bouncing sets off a protective mechanism called the stretch reflex. The muscle will recoil so you won't overstretch it. But as a result, you'll never get to a true stretch," she says. "A true stretch is sustained, with no bouncing."
Try the shoulder stretches we've laid out here. All you need is a doorway or wall.
Safran-Norton recommends stretching your shoulders three to seven times per week. "If you're stiff, stretch daily. If you're already flexible, it's fine to stretch every other day," she says. But avoid stretching for too long or too vigorously: back off quickly if you start to feel pain.
Other tips: make sure you stand up straight when you stretch, and make sure you're hydrated.
Movement: Stand up straight facing a wall. Extend your right arm with your elbow soft (not locked) and place your hand on the wall at shoulder height. Slowly walk your fingers upward, stepping in toward the wall as your hand climbs higher. Stop when you feel mild tension in your shoulder. Hold 10 to 30 seconds. Slowly walk your fingers back down the wall and return to the starting position. Repeat three to four times. Switch arms and repeat.
Chest and shoulder stretch
Movement: Stand alongside a doorway or wall. Extend your right arm and put your right hand on the edge of the door frame slightly below shoulder level, palm facing forward and touching the door frame. Keep your shoulders down and back. Slowly turn your body to the left, away from the door frame, until you feel the stretch in your chest and shoulder. Hold 10 to 30 seconds. Return to the starting position. Repeat three to four times, then repeat on the opposite side.
Movement: Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart and your hands by your sides. Place the back of your right hand against the small of your back at your waist. Your fingers should be pointing up. Slowly slide your right hand farther up your back as high as you can. Hold 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat three to four times, then repeat with left hand.
This blog is updated by Tranquillity 360 fitness personal trainers, as well as other guest bloggers.