Have you ever noticed that a cat or dog will stretch almost every time they get up from sleep or laying around? They do this because it’s good for them. Most dogs and cats don’t have near the joint problems that humans do. It’s because they stretch as often as they can.
Stretching is one of the most important things you can do for your body. It doesn’t matter if you want to get in shape or are even trying.
If you practice daily stretching, you can still avoid some of the injuries that come with daily life; like joint pain and muscle aches.
Exercise isn’t always fun for everyone, but stretching is something that anyone can do and it feels great.
If you are trying to get in shape you need to add daily stretching to your routine. You should even stretch on the days you aren’t working out, just to keep the muscles limber and help prevent injuries on your workout days. It also increases blood flow which is essential to all your vital organs and tissues.
Stretching before a workout helps to warm up soft tissues and prevent tears in ligaments. A good daily stretch also helps prevent muscle strain and bone fractures by keeping everything in working order.
Some of the reasons that stretching is so important for your workouts is the extra benefits it gives you. Not only does it do the things mentioned above, it also helps to increase your muscle tone, diminishes muscle stiffness and cramping, but it also adds more flexibility.
Poor flexibility is one of the major causes of stress injuries on the muscles and joints and tight hamstring muscles are directly related to lower back pain. Tight muscles lead to poor posture, so it’s only natural that flexible, strong muscles will improve posture.
Another benefit that really isn’t discussed as much is that stretching can also help you manage stress and improve your brain function by giving you mental clarity. Getting oxygen to the brain, even with something as easy as stretching is always a huge benefit.
Stretching before your workout as a warm up and afterwards as a cool down phase is vital to your overall health and progress. The warm up phase gets your muscles ready and limber for the extra loads you’re about to put on them. During the cool down phase, stretching helps your muscles relax after a hard workout.
It may seem like a contradiction but you do need to warm up the muscles before stretching. You can do this by walking in place, doing some jumping jacks or light aerobics. The key is to get some blood pumping to the muscles before you stretch them. Stretching a cold muscle can be just as damaging as not stretching during your workouts.
Also remember to hold stretches for awhile. Most experts tell you 10 or 15 seconds, but you get greater benefits the longer you can hold a stretch and let gravity do as much of the work as possible. Never force yourself into a stretching pose, instead just slink into it naturally and only stretch as far as you feel comfortable.
We’ve discussed ways that stretching can help you with your workouts and mentioned that stretching is good for everyone. If you’re a couch potato and have no desire to do exercise, you should do some stretches daily. It’ll make you feel better, and who knows, it may inspire you to start working out.