Did you know that regular stretching is just as important as regular exercise? If you're like me, you probably neglect this aspect of your fitness regime, even though stretching has major benefits.
Stretching can improve flexibility, resulting in improved range of motion in your joints. Also, better flexibility may help decrease your risk of injuries by helping joints move through their full range of motion. Hopefully these reasons will inspire you to make it part of your schedule!
Here are some of the main benefits of stretching:
For Your Body
Helps improve flexibility (increases your range of motion)
Assists in correct posture by lengthening tight muscles that pull areas of the body away from their intended position (because of so much time at our computers, many of us have tight chest muscles which pulls the shoulders and head forward, leaving us with a hunched shoulder look)
Potential to decrease injury by preparing muscles for work before activity
Increases blood and nutrient supply to muscles, thereby possibly reducing muscle soreness
For Your Mind
Even a short amount of time (10-15 minutes) of stretching can calm the mind, provide a mental break, and give your body a chance to recharge
Classes like yoga or pilates offer you a chance to spend an hour releasing tension physically and mentally
To get the most out of the stretching you do, here are some suggestions:
Skip the Pre-Workout Stretch
Your muscles should be warm before you begin your stretching. Do a warmup before a workout that simulates the movements you'll be doing in order to warm up and prepare your body. Stretch after the workout when your muscles are already warm.
Focus on the Muscles That Need the Most Help
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 on each stretch and include more stretches for each area. If you are aware of muscles that are tight, then focus on those ones.
Include One Long-Duration Flexibility Session Each Week
Choose a flexibility class, such as yoga, hot yoga, pilates, or do your own flexibility work for 45-60 minutes at least once a week.
Stretching can improve flexibility, resulting in improved range of motion in your joints. Also, better flexibility may help decrease your risk of injuries by helping joints move through their full range of motion.