I can’t tell you how many times my husband tells me he’s pulled or otherwise strained a muscle when working out. It’s pretty common, especially the older you get and the less you stretch. As I always remind my hubby when he complains of this, you MUST stretch your muscles adequately before working out.
Read this past story about the importance of flexibility as you age for more on how vital this is to continued health and mobility as you age.
You can do a more dynamic stretch, like jogging in place or doing something that gets the blood moving, or if you’re going to do something like yoga, static stretches should be just fine. The key is in holding them long enough to actually stretch the muscle. Many people don’t hold the stretch long enough, and the muscle isn’t “pliable” enough to avoid injury or strain when they begin the hard stuff.
Stretching after your workout is absolutely crucial, and too many people either skip this step or they don’t do it for a long enough period. Stretching the muscles back out after they’ve been contracted for long periods of time is important in stretching the muscle back out and avoiding later pain and discomfort.
You should have a stretch session of at least five minutes after every workout, and make sure your muscles feel loosened back up when you’re done.
One of the worst muscles on me after working out tends to be my hamstrings. They are always tight. So I find myself stretching those several times throughout the day when I’ve worked out. It really helps to make my whole body feel loose and relaxed when just stretching that one large muscle.
Getting in a sauna is also a huge help. We use our infrared sauna all the time after a hard workout. It really relaxes you and deeply penetrates your muscles so that they stretch much more easily and are less prone to soreness and injury after a hard workout.
You can also sweat out some of those toxins that you may not have gotten out of your system during the workout, which helps to reduce muscle pain and discomfort after working out.
I love to get a massage when my muscles are tight. I actually prefer to get a massage after a hard day at work, which is when my muscles are most tight. I have a desk job, but sitting all day is far worse for your muscles than moving around all day. They stiffen up and become painful and contorted from stress and sitting in one position for too long.
If you want to read more about back pain and sitting too long – read about how exercise helps control back pain, a previous post I wrote about the challenges of having a desk job and having neck and back pain as I do from previous car accidents.