Stretching before and after workouts is an important practice for any fitness routine. Consider these five important benefits of flexibility and stretching.
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The Benefits of Flexibility & Stretching
Want to optimize your fitness routine? Maintaining great flexibility through stretching is important for any workout regimen. Taking adequate time to stretch prior to working out helps prepare and loosen up your muscles for exercise, while stretching after a workout can help reduce the strain on your muscles and joints.
Keep reading to learn about the benefits of maintaining good flexibility and stretching practices, as well as how to incorporate them into your workout.
Top 5 Benefits of Flexibility & Stretching
Stretching offers many improvements to your mind and body. Consider these top 5 benefits of stretching and flexibility.
1. Improved Range of Motion
Stretching is necessary to maintain the best possible range of motion in your joints. For regular exercisers, muscles may shorten and feel tight after certain exercises. You might experience joint pain or strains, or feel that you're unable to extend your muscles all the way. By implementing stretches into your fitness routine, you can help support your joints with an increased range of motion. In turn, you'll also reduce your risk of uncomfortable stiffness so you can exercise to your full potential.
2. Reduced Risk of Injury
Stretching can help reduce the risk of injury during exercise, as it increases flexibility. Warm up before a workout with "dynamic stretching" to prepare your body for exercise in a safe and effective manner. This is a specific type of movement-based stretching that differs from "static" or traditional stretching.
Static stretches are generally best after exercise to help with muscle recovery.
Examples of static stretches include a toe touch or shoulder stretch. In contrast, dynamic stretch exercises typically comprise walking lunges, leg swings against a wall, and trunk twists.
Performing stretches that enhance your range of motion will not only help you reduce the risk of injury when working out, but it can make it easier to perform everyday tasks. Several studies have suggested that regular stretching also helps delay age-related mobility changes.
3. Increased Blood Flow
Stretching muscles makes them feel great and supports their recovery post-exercise by flushing away waste products. It can widen the blood vessels around the targeted muscles, allowing more blood to flow through your body. As your heart starts pumping more blood, your muscles receive more oxygen. These muscles are then able to rid themselves of the waste products, which helps to improve circulation.
4. Enhanced Performance
Stretching can also help you better leverage your muscles during your workout. Sticking with a regular stretch routine will prime your muscles to maximize your performance. With this in mind, it's important not to neglect stretching as you aim to achieve your fitness goals. If your goal is to gain strength through weight lifting, for example, stretching can help ensure your muscles can effectively tolerate your workout.
Know that a regular stretching routine doesn't need to be lengthy to have an impact. Stretching routines of just 5 to 10 minutes per day can be extremely effective in enhancing workout performance.
5. Stress Relief
In addition to the many physical benefits of stretching, it's also a reliable form of stress relief. By lengthening the muscles to relieve tension, stretching can make you feel relaxed and calm. When stress builds up in the body, it may manifest as physical symptoms or discomfort. If you're feeling stressed, consider trying these basic stretches to help reduce muscle tension.
• Neck stretch: Stand with knees slightly bent and drop chin to chest. Place your hands on the back of your head, pushing down until you feel a slight stretch. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds. You can repeat this stretch for several rounds (as many as feel good).
• Back Stretch: Stand with your knees bent and clasp your hands in front of you. Keep your arms parallel to the floor with your head relaxed. Round your upper back, pushing your hands forward and palms away from your body. Hold this position for about 30 seconds. Repeat as necessary.
You can do these exercises in any place at any time.
Incorporate Stretching Into Your Routine for Enhanced Flexibility
Incorporating stretching into your regular exercise routine and enhancing your flexibility can help improve your overall health and well-being. Learning basic stretches is easy! Within no time, you'll discover which stretches feel best and offer you the most benefit.
Regular stretching helps increase blood flow to muscles, enhances workout performance, and improves your range of motion — it can even help reduce your risk of injury and support improved stress levels. Start with just 5 minutes of stretching a day until you develop a routine that works best for you.