The Benefits of Stretching After Class
Music is slowing down, lights are coming up, class is over and now it’s time to stretch. Anxious to get back to your work day or your weekend, you unclip and rush to the door. Stop. Do consider these three valuable things that happen to your body as you stretch:
Benefit #1: Muscles get longer. You become more flexible.
As you ride your muscles contract to give you the strength to pedal. When you stretch, those same muscles begin to relax and elongate, opening up space between the many filaments that muscles are made up. Your intention is for all the fibers in your muscles to get back into place and get enough oxygen to them so they begin the recovery process. Added benefit: stretching prevents next day sore muscles and increases overall flexibility.
Benefit #2: Heart rate comes down. The recovery starts.
When exercise stops, your heart rate decreases sharply. Of course, the speed of this process is different for everyone and it depends on your overall health and shape. Have you noticed how sweaty you’re at this moment? It is always good to be gentle with your body and allow it to fully recover before heading to your next activity.
Benefit #3: Oxygen gets to your blood. Circulation increases.
Oxygen gets deliver evenly throughout your body when blood circulates freely as you take the time to lengthen and stretching your muscles. This process happens only when you relax. You might think you were working hard because your heart was pumping strong but only now blood starts to flow evenly and nutrients and oxygen get to every area of your circulatory system.
Give yourself those extra minutes to slow down, take deep breaths and re-focus. Your body and your circulatory system will thank you!