Before you start thinking, “A towel? As workout gear? Really?” just consider this: of all the pieces of workout equipment you’ll ever own, none will ever serve as many purposes and cost as little as a good workout towel. That’s because the usefulness of a workout towel goes way beyond mopping sweat, but more about that later.
Why you should bring a towel to the gym
Protects your skin from germs
To start with, a towel can provide you with some excellent protection at the gym. Shared equipment means shared germs so if you’re not taking the opportunity to wipe down equipment before and after you’re using it, you can be exposing yourself to germs like staph, strep, e.coli and candida. But let’s say your gym doesn’t provide antibacterial sprays nearby equipment. After making that suggestion to your gym’s management, finish your workout knowing your towel has your back. Simply lay the towel down on the weight bench, armrest or other stationary surface that’s been in contact with other people. Do NOT use your towel on moving components or between your hands and the grip surface of equipment.
When you’re done with the main part of your workout, your towel becomes a great flexibility aid… allowing you to get a better stretch by extending your reach in certain exercises.
For instance, when stretching out shoulders and triceps, lift one arm overhead, bent at the elbow with elbow facing the ceiling and fingers reaching down towards your shoulder blade. Hold one end of the towel in this hand. Keep your other arm down, bending the elbow so that fingers are reaching up towards your other hand. Grab the other end of the towel. Now gently alternate pulling in either direction to extend the stretch in either direction before switching positions.
You can also use your towel like a sling to hold your heel up during a quad stretch or to loop behind both ankles to help pull you downward when trying to touch your toes.
But wait – there’s more! Your towel can also function as a useful splint or cushion to help protect you from pain or injury. If, like many men, you notice a pinch in your lower back when doing sit ups, quad extensions or leg presses, simply fold the towel in half lengthwise and then roll it up like a burrito. Then place the roll under the small of your back, behind your neck or anywhere else where you could use some extra support.
Germ fighter, stretching partner and physical therapist all for as little as $5… that towel doesn’t seem so wimpy anymore… Does it?