Working out in the hot sun may be the last thing you want to do during the dog days of summer, but it might be the best time for it. Think about the hot yoga craze: Those warm temps actually help the body’s mobility. Fortunately for you, just stretching in the sun saves you tons of money on Bikram class fees.
Think of your muscles like a set of different-sized rubber bands. If you have a thick, tight muscle that lengthens to the full range of its motion, it’s going to experience more tension on it and you are more likely to injure it as it moves beyond its comfort zone — like a rubber band pushed past its limits.
When a muscle is restricted, or overly tight, it will need more focused attention on the restricted area through a muscle release. Yes, stretching, especially in heat, will still lengthen the muscle. But it’s less likely to lengthen in the restricted parts with just stretching alone. That’s especially true if you start exercising without warming up the muscle. This could not only negatively impact your body, but also your athletic performance. A muscle at the ideal length can contract more efficiently and thus demonstrates increased strength.
By working your muscles at the ideal length, you’re maximizing your efforts on the track or in the park. You’re also improving your ability to activate the appropriate muscles, reducing injury, and improving performance. So take advantage of summer — but make sure to hydrate and dress for the heat to stay healthy.
Here are some exercises that are particularly good for increasing mobility to try on the next hot day.