Improving your health often means incorporating more exercise into your weekly routine. Most workouts emphasize the importance of building muscle and improving aerobic fitness, but they only slightly touch on flexibility.
Flexibility plays a significant role in overall fitness, and stretching is one of the best ways to improve it. Discover more about the importance of stretching and how to start a stretching routine here.
The Importance of Stretching
Flexibility is essential for joint and muscle health. Stretching is one way to improve muscle flexibility, health and strength. Without flexibility, muscles can become tight and weak. They won’t be able to fully extend when you need them, restricting the range of motion in the muscles and joints and putting you at risk of pain and injury.
Unstretched muscles may become damaged if you use them too suddenly. Damaged muscles often do not have the strength to support joints, which can then result in joint pain and joint injuries. Stretching regularly can help reduce the chance of these injuries, allowing you to spend more time doing the activities you love.
The Benefits of Stretching
The benefits of stretching are numerous. In addition to helping prevent muscle and joint injuries, stretching offers the following benefits to improve mental and physical health.
Improves Athletic Performance
Stretching prepares your muscles for activity, promoting a superior range of motion. A better range of motion can improve your performance in sports, whether you’re swinging a golf club, running a 5K or kicking a soccer ball.
Routine stretching can improve circulation and increase blood flow to muscles. The result is less soreness and reduced recovery time after physical activities.
The benefits of stretching can be as mental as they are physical. Muscles tighten in response to emotional and physical stress, especially muscles in the back, neck and shoulders. Stretching can loosen muscle tension, and in turn, relieve stress.
You can also use your stretching routine as a time to meditate and give your mind a break. Stretching offers an opportunity to improve flexibility while reducing stress and calming the mind.
Additional benefits of stretching include easing current back pain and preventing future back pain/injuries. It can also improve posture and help reduce headaches associated with stress and tension. The advantages of incorporating stretching into your health and wellness routine are well worth the roughly five to 20 minutes it can take out of your day.
Starting A Stretching Routine
One of the best parts about stretching is that it doesn’t require equipment. A qualified fitness trainer can assess your current flexibility and muscle strength to help create a stretching routine tailored to your needs. Once you learn the basics, you can perform the stretches in the comfort of your home.
According to an article published by Harvard Health Publishing, you do not have to stretch every muscle every day. The areas most necessary to stretch for mobility are the hamstrings, calves, hip flexors and quadriceps. Lower back, neck and shoulder stretches can also help relieve tension and stress while promoting better posture.
The key to improving flexibility through stretching is doing it regularly. You probably won’t see many results after one or two stretching sessions. However, daily stretching, or stretching at least three to four times per week, can help achieve the flexibility, stress relief or pain relief you seek.
Learn more about the importance of stretching and how to get started by checking out the accompanying infographic.
Infographic provided by Reclaim Fitness, personal fitness trainer
Author bio: Dan Borucki is an ISSA Certified Fitness Coach and Personal Trainer at Re|Claim Fitness. He is committed to providing a level of service that is focused on the individual, whatever his or her needs and goals may be. Borucki strives to encourage, support and challenge his clients to feel stronger, healthier and more confident.