How often do you stretch before you exercise? or even just stretch at all? Are you still in doubt about the benefits of stretching?
Stretching is as important to your body as regular exercise. It is quite easy to overlook stretching because the results are not as visible as weight lifting, sit up, and squatting or so you thought.
Stretching is very important in lightening of muscles for flexibility, range of motion, and injury prevention.
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- Why Is Stretching So Important?
It is also an important part of any exercise or rehabilitation program. Stretching helps relaxes your muscles and increases blood flow and nutrients to your cartilage and muscles.
No matter your age and sex, stretching is good for everybody.
Why Is Stretching So Important?
Stretching can lead to better posture, fewer aches and pains, greater confidence, and a cheerier outlook on life.
That’s because stretching increases your blood flow and circulation for a healthier body and sends oxygen to your brain for a clearer mind and sunnier moods.
If you’re like me, you probably neglect this aspect of your fitness regime, even though stretching has major benefits.
Hopefully, these reasons will inspire you to include it in your schedule.
1. Stretching Improves Flexibility
One of the amazing benefits of stretching is quite obviously improved flexibility. In fact, this is the most established benefit of stretching.
Your innate flexibility comes from several factors: joints, ligaments, tendons and muscle.
With an increased range of motion, you might find yourself capable of moving into positions otherwise deemed dangerous.
In many fitness arenas, stretching is often overlooked with so many of us eager to get on with the tough stuff.
However, I think it’s important to remember that being flexible presents many benefits to the human body that are not just exercised in the gym.
2. Stretching Has a Calming Effect
Stretches should be gentle not only for the sake of the body but also for the mind.
As the muscles contract and lengthen, the physical body relaxes, which then translates to a more relaxed and calm emotional state.
Flexibility work, if done properly, has a calming effect. For this reason, it’s a good thing to practice around bedtime. When you prepare your body for sleep through [gently] stretching, you’re helping your body recover and regenerate.
3. Stretching Prepares The Body For The Pain Ahead
Stretching allows the body to warm-up as it encourages the flow of blood to all organs of the body including the muscles.
The muscles then enjoy an oxygen supply and the nutrients needed to keep them going throughout a WOD.
4. Stretching Builds And Elongates Your Muscles
Stretching allows you to move through the full range of motion when it comes to hitting weights, in effect creating long and full muscles instead of stunted ones.
Instead of trying to stretch your whole body after every time you exercise, focus on a key area of the body each time.
Spend longer time on each stretch and include more stretches for each area. If you are aware of muscles that are tight, then focus on those ones.
5. It Reduces The Risk of Injury
A flexible body means that your long muscles are not as susceptible to tearing so you have plenty of room to move if you’re attempting a heavy lift.
Stretching can be thought of as preventative medicine for the body by ensuring it stays mobile, flexible, and best of all, injury-free.
6. Stretching Encourages Fast Recovery
There is a reason why we are trained to stretch before and after exercise. Not only does stretching warm the body but it does wonders for recovery and may just prevent the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle syndrome).
Exercising causes accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles (lactic acidosis) leading to muscle cramps. By stretching the muscles after exercise, these acids move into the bloodstream and out of the muscles to the liver, where they are broken down.
7. Stretching Increases Your Stamina
One of the benefits of stretching is that it increases stamina. It helps loosens your muscles and tendons which relieves muscle fatigue and increases blood flow.
The longer you exercise, the more fat you burn, of course, you know fat can cause fatigue. But when you stretch, you delay the onset of muscle fatigue by ensuring oxygen is efficiently flowing through your blood.
This ultimately increases your endurance for strenuous exercise.
And with all these said, you should know now that stretching has many benefits, and doing it often will help you, your body, and your mind a whole lot.
- Harvard Health. Importance of Stretching. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-stretching
- Sara Lindberg. Stretching: 9 Benefits Plus Safety Tips and How to Start. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-stretching