Is stretching really that important? After a long day or a hard session at the gym it can be easy to miss out our stretching routine.
But really, you should be making time in your day to stretch, whether you are exercising or not and here are 5 reasons why...
1. To prevent injury
Stretching regularly will increase your flexibility, which in turn will help to prevent injury when your body is forced to move into a position it is not used to. If you have a weak spot or play a sport where a specific part of your body is vulnerable, invest time in doing specific stretches to bring more movement to this area. The next time you twist your back playing golf, or go over on your wobbly ankle, your body will be more used to the unusual position and will be capable of displacing itself farther from its home position without harm. The philosophy is: don’t wait until an injury occurs, stretch now and you might just prevent one.
2. To relieve pain
Tightness in your muscles can cause pain, from a small niggle to something much more serious. Stretching is an easy way to relieve this pain by gently increasing the movement of tight muscles. You will find that if one part of your body becomes tight, another part compensates and you feel the soreness in the compensating areas. This is why it is good to stretch all parts of your body.
3. To relieve muscular soreness
You are probably familiar with what is termed “post-exercise muscle soreness.” When you work muscles you are not used to using, or work your muscles at a different angle, they get sore a day or two days later. When you do experience it, stretching can come to the rescue by reducing the lactic acid build up in your muscles. In Stretching with Ease you will find stretches for all the different muscle groups so you can tailor your stretching routine to your exercise program.
4. To improve posture
Your everyday life and habits can limit your ability to move freely, such as sitting hunched at a desk all day. Working and stretching all parts of the body is a good solution for keeping everything in balance.
5. To advance physical and athletic skill
Whatever sport you play or exercise you do, a high degree of flexibility will always be in your favour. In some cases this is obvious, take gymnasts and dancers for instance. However in other sports flexibility is still important; a greater range of motion will give an athlete’s movement more force, speed, momentum. A baseball pitcher can reach farther back when he winds up to throw if his shoulder’s rotator-cuff muscles are flexible. (A flexible core doesn’t hurt either.) In the weight-training context, the best-stretched muscle is capable of the hardest work.
Extracted from Stretching with Ease by Linda Minarik.