Why Stretching Is Just As Important As Exercise

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. Hopefully these reasons will inspire you to make it part of your schedule!

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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 or pilates, or do your own flexibility work for 45-60 minutes at least once a week. If you're having trouble sticking to it, follow these strategies and build it into your schedule/calendar.

6 Reasons Whey You Should Stretch [Fit & Healthy 365]

Lydia Di Francesco is a certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition and Wellness Specialist. She is passionate about helping others get fit with exercise and healthy eating. You can follow her blog Fit & Healthy 365 or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.


Comments

    Mostly unsubstantiated and likely incorrect, given most studies on the subject. Quite the claim to say it's just as important as exercise and cite absolutely nothing to back that up. Paul Ingraham's old article debunking stretching is probably the most cited reference for stretching being (mostly) useless. http://saveyourself.ca/articles/stretching.php

      Thanks for the excellent article reference!

    My friend who has a PhD in body movement, has played sport at the highest level and coaches people of all levels doesn't believe in stretching. He says there is no evidence to suggest it does anything apart from make us feel a little bit better (confirmation bias, if you will).

    I do a lot of hard stretching using my own muscle resistance as a kind of weight, I've noticed a drastic increase in muscle mass, flexibility and a massive decrease in problems with the scoliosis in my spine and my bad knees.

    Granted what I do is more of a light body resistance workout than stretching though.

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