I'm as guilty as they come. With seconds left on the timer, I power through the last few difficult reps of a group fitness class, and then immediately walk out of the studio — totally skipping the post-workout stretch.
Believe me, I know it's a bad habit that could contribute to painful injuries, but the three minutes my class dedicates to stretching just doesn't seem worth it. I never, ever feel properly cooled down or stretched, so why stick around and deal with a crowded locker room?
Curious if that few minutes is actually enough time to stretch post-workout, I reached out to a certified personal trainer and coach at D1 Training, Joel Okaah.
His advice? Definitely stay for that quick stretch — and then some.
"Stretching after a workout class is super important, but I definitely wouldn't limit it to what they provide in a typical class, which is why most instructors invite participants to stay as long as they'd like to stretch out more," Okaah suggests.
Instead of rushing to put your weights away before everyone else (like me) and sprinting out of the studio to the showers, Okaah says to aim for five to 10 minutes (tops!) of stretching.
"Post-workout, your muscles are warm, making it one of the best times to stretch — so take advantage," he says.
Stretching can help reduce muscle fatigue and speed up your recovery time, but be sure not to overstretch, as it could contribute toward muscle strain.
Static stretching is typical of many cooldowns, but your instructor can guide you through a series of applicable stretches for the exercises you've just completed.