The time is now. Your friends gather around in anticipation, even strangers at the gym have gravitated to watch this moment. Closing your eyes, you take a few deep breaths to gather your strength and harness your confidence. With your hip-width stance, you slowly bend down and wrap your fingers around the cool, steel bar. One single drop of sweat makes its way down your face and leaps from your chin in an attempt at liberation.

You’re ready. It’s time to top your power clean record. With your shoulders just slightly forward and your eyes gazing straight ahead, you begin the ascent. Everything is going as planned… until disaster strikes. Right as you begin the extension, you feel a sharp pain in your lower back, striking like lightning. You let out an embarrassing moan and begin writhing on the mat, you witness your friends shaking their heads in shame.

Foolishly, you had made the assumption that stretching was only for runners. Oh, how wrong you were. At Oak Street Fitness, your boutique training gym in uptown New Orleans, not only do we want to help you achieve your fitness goals, but we also want you to keep you healthy and injury-free. This requires you not only following proper techniques, but stretching the muscles you plan on strengthening as well. Here are a few reasons why stretching is extremely important to reduce your chance of injury when you hit the gym.

First Things First

Even before you stretch, it is highly recommended that you warm-up. It’s important to get your blood flowing to your muscles and increasing your heart rate before you do anything. Even stretching cold muscles increases the possibility of pulling them. It shouldn’t be intensive at all, just something to get your body ready. This could include a short aerobic exercise such as a few minutes on a stationary bike or doing some jumping jacks. If you’re strictly going to lift, then do some low-weight, high-rep lifting. The important thing is to make sure that you and your muscles are loose.

A Few Helpful Stretching Tips

You want to make sure that you take the stretching seriously. You’re not decreasing your possibility of injury if you’re just half-heartedly performing your stretches. Take your time. The weights and the equipment aren’t going anywhere (especially since our gym is open to you for 24-hours). Also, if you feel too much resistance or pain while stretching, don’t strain yourself too much. You’re going to want to ease your muscles into that loosey goosey state.

Lastly, just like during your workout, remember to breath. You should be calm and relaxed, not stressed out. When you’re tense, you’re more likely to pull a muscle. Take deep breaths and remain tranquil, this is the time to prepare your body and mind for the workout.

Benefits of Stretching

Too many people jump right into their routine, not only skipping the stretches, but starting off the bat with heavy lifting. We understand the enthusiasm, health and fitness is our profession, but you’re putting yourself at risk by doing this. You won’t be able to work out through a pulled muscle, right? So pace yourself, and pace your muscles for the day.

Stretching helps increase your flexibility and range of motion, which is critical before engaging in strenuous activity. Not only that, but it enhances your muscles’ ability to perform, helps reduce muscle soreness, and, of course, lessen your chance of injury.

While it can be really easy to convince yourself that stretching isn’t necessary, the fact of the matter is that it is not only going to prevent you from getting hurt, but will give you an extra boost to reach your goals. Now it is time to break your power clean record.

Oak Street Fitness

At Oak Street Fitness, we are committed to helping you reach your fitness goals no matter what they may be. Whether you just want to shed some unwanted pounds or you want to be a Goliath in the weight training realm, our certified personal trainers will get you there. From helping you stretch (yes, stretch!), showing you proper techniques, customizing workout routines, to giving you a nutritional coaching, Oak Street Fitness is here for you. Located in uptown New Orleans, be sure to contact us today to learn more about the gym memberships that we offer.