The Importance of Stretching


When you are ready to do your workout for the day, stretching isn’t always the first thing on your mind. The exercise is the only thing that will benefit you anyways, right? WRONG! Stretching is crucial to improving the flexibility of your joints and preventing serious injury. As we age our muscles tighten and our range of motion declines, which can ultimately have an effect on our day to day activities. Just by doing a simple stretch before and after your workout can improve your flexibility and therefore improve muscle balance, reduce injury, and reduce muscle soreness. 

When stretching before a workout you never want to start out with static stretches. Stretching cold muscles can be painful and even lead to tearing or straining. First start with a light 3-5 minute cardiovascular warm up, such as a brisk walk or exaggerated arm movements just to get the blood flowing. Then you should follow up with static stretches that work all the major muscle groups and make sure to hold them for at least fifteen seconds to really get the benefit.

So you stretch at the beginning of a workout and think that is all you need, plus after a long training session you may just feel too tired to crank out another stretch. However, it is very important to also stretch at the end of a good exercise. Your muscles shorten and tighten as a result of exercise, so stretching helps to restore and improve their length. The muscles you worked will be warm after a good workout, so focus on deep static stretches that really engage the muscle. Stretching might be a back burner when it comes to your fitness plan, but those simple little stretches can be your key to living a long, active life.  

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