Ugly Side Effects of Not Stretching After Exercise, Says Science
Science shows that stretching isn't actually literal—you're not even "stretching" your muscles at all. In fact, the true purpose of stretching is to lengthen and mobilize the connective tissue around your muscle, which does wonders for both your joints and your muscles. What's more, stretching helps your blood flow, reduces your risk of injury, helps you lose weight, and even relieves your stress.
1.You Could Feel Sick
You won't be surprised to know that when you exercise, you raise your heart rate for a period of time. While it's great to get that blood flowing, experts will tell you that it's just as important to "get your heart rate back to a normal level after the workout is over." This is also known in the fitness world as "cooling down."
"After physical activity, your heart is still beating faster than normal, your body temperature is higher and your blood vessels are dilated," write the health experts at the American Heart Association. "This means if you stop too fast, you could pass out or feel sick. A cool-down after physical activity allows a gradual decrease at the end of the episode."
2.Your Muscles Will Likely Become Stiffer and More Sore
When you exercise your muscles, it produces an inflammatory response in the form of lactic acid, which is actually what causes your muscles to become sore. When you rest—or "recover"—in the time between bouts of exercise, your body naturally breaks down and gets rid of that lactic acid. One thing that helps your body dispose of that lactic acid? You guessed it: Stretching. Stretching helps your distribute oxygen throughout your body and muscles, which, according the Healthline, "can reduce lactic acid production and rid your muscles of any accumulation of lactic acid."
At the same time, stretching right after exercise will also relax what are guaranteed to be stiffer muscles that are far more likely to cramp.
3.You'll Be at Risk of Injury
According to the experts in the sports medicine department at UC Davis Health, inflexibility will cause you to have muscles that tire quicker and joints that are more prone injury, it will lead to "abnormal stress on structures and distant from the initial site of inflexibility" , and your weakened range of motion will lead to less blood and nutrients to your joints. In the case of the latter, it's why people often feel stiffness and pain in their "weight bearing" joints, such as the knees and hips.
Put simply: "Stretching after you exercise helps optimize the range of motion about your joints and boosts circulation," write the leading health experts at The Mayo Clinic.
Step one: "Walk for about 5 minutes, or until your heart rate gets below 120 beats per minute."
Step two, moving to stretching: "Hold each stretch 10 to 30 seconds. The stretch should be strong, but not painful. Breathe while you're stretching. Exhale as you stretch, inhale while holding the stretch."