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Why Summer is the Perfect Time for Stretching WorkoutsSummer is always a tough time to get in a workout. It's tough to beat the midday heat, and the overwhelmingly bright, hot sun can make it difficult to train. After all, if you're sweating buckets, you tend to get dehydrated more quickly. But did you know that summer is an excellent time to work on your flexibility with stretching workouts? You'll find the heat is perfect to help you limber up and loosen those stiff muscles and joints!
How Heat Helps MobilityHave you ever done Hot Yoga? When you're in the very high heat and humidity, it's often easier to stretch. This is because the connective tissue around your joints is sort of like a rubber band: it loosens with the heat and gets stiffer with cold. When the weather is hot, you'll find you have a greater range of motion than when things are chilly. You'll be able to move more freely, and there will be less tension in your muscles.
Always Stretch FirstIf you jump straight into your workout without loosening up first, you run the risk of pulling a muscle or damaging the connective tissue. The heat loosens up the muscle and tissue, but your movements pull on them, lengthening them beyond their normal extension. If you haven't taken the time to warm up and stretch out those muscles beforehand, you could pull something too far. This could lead to injuries if you're not careful. Which is precisely why you should always stretch before your workout, summer heat or not. By taking the time to stretch, you ensure your muscles and connective tissues can stretch properly. The result is better mobility and flexibility without a higher risk of injuries.
Don't Push Too Far
One huge mistake that many Hot Yoga practitioners make is stretching too far. The heat and humidity will help to loosen up your muscles and joints, but your connective tissue is only capable of stretching so far. Push it too much, and you could pull or tear something. The problem is that you won't feel it until AFTER it's too late to prevent the injury. The summer heat will loosen things up so much that you will be able to stretch very far, and you'll only notice the injury to your muscles or connective tissue after you cool down. Be careful to go easy on the stretches so you don't pull or tear anything!
Be Careful of OverheatingAnother important thing to remember: watch your sweating, and make sure to drink plenty of fluids. The summer heat can get you sweating buckets, and you may end up getting dehydrated as a result. You could faint or get dizzy if you don't have enough fluids to replenish what you're losing. During the summer, it may be a good idea to have a sports drink rather than just water, especially if you're doing a prolonged (more than 90 minutes) workout. With a sports drink, you get a few calories of energy, some electrolytes (sodium and potassium) for better muscle contractions, and more fluid to replenish what is lost.
Take Advantage of the Heat to StretchDuring the summer, make it a point to spend more time stretching before and after your workouts. You can see drastic increases in your mobility and flexibility thanks to the summer heat, and doing those stretches daily may carry over into the colder months of the year. You can beat the stiffness and soreness that kicks in during the winter time. Thanks to the heat, you can be a much more limber and flexible person!