Okay, it’s time to be honest, both with us and with yourselves here, but how many of you reading this can honestly say that you set aside 5 – 10 minutes before and after a workout to stretch your muscles?
We know that we should stretch before a workout, but at the same time, we also know that we shouldn’t drink alcohol, eat pizza and we should eat 5 portions of vegetables each day.
Basically, just because we know we should be doing it, doesn’t mean that we do actually do it.
There are, however, a number of important health benefits of stretching that we need to look at in great detail in order to understand why stretching is so important, and don’t worry, we’ll certainly get to that.
Watch any athletes getting ready for a big game or event, and 99.9% of the time they’ll take part in an extensive stretching routine to help them get warmed up and prepared for the activity they’re about to perform, but why exactly is it that?
Why is stretching so important?
- 1 The Many Health Benefits Of Stretching:
- 1.1 1. Warm-up Before A Workout
- 1.2 2. Improve Your Range Of Motion
- 1.3 3. Saves Time
- 1.4 4. Improve Your Flexibility
- 1.5 5. Reduce Muscle Stiffness
- 1.6 6. Helps Protect Your Joints
- 1.7 7. Can Be Done Anywhere
- 1.8 8. Can Help To Manage Stress
- 1.9 9. Reduce Your Risk Of Injury
- 1.10 10. Help To Improve Your Posture
- 1.11 11. Improve Your Mental Health
- 1.12 12. Stretching Helps With Weight Management
- 1.13 13. Tone Your Muscles
- 1.14 14. Improves Your Circulation
- 1.15 15. Improved Athletic Performance
- 1.16 16. Stretching Costs Virtually Nothing
- 1.17 17. Reduce Your Risk Of Lower Back Pain
- 1.18 18. Stretching Can Be Fun
- 1.19 19. Great Way To Cool Down After A Workout
- 1.20 20. Stretching Increases Your Energy Levels
- 1.21 21. Stretching Improves Cardiovascular Health
- 2 Final Thoughts:
The Many Health Benefits Of Stretching:
1. Warm-up Before A Workout
Whether you’re an athlete or a simple gym-goer, one of the first things you need to do before you take part in a workout or game, or sporting event, is a stretch.
Stretching your muscles is a great way to help raise your pulse, get your blood circulating, and increase your core body temperature.
This in turn means that you’ll be more prepared before a workout and you will be nice and warm.
2. Improve Your Range Of Motion
In the morning when you wake up, try reaching down and touching your toes and see how stiff and tense you feel after spending so much time laying in bed.
Now, if you set aside 10 minutes to stretch your muscles, and try again, you’ll find that bending down to touch your toes is much easier than it was before you stretched.
One of the main benefits is that it improves your range of motion.
3. Saves Time
When preparing for a workout or sporting event, another of the awesome benefits that we’re looking at today is the fact that it saves so much time.
Stretching requires no gym equipment or no complex movements requiring a lot of practice and preparation.
When you stretch, you can go through an entire stretching routine in as little as 5 minutes.
If you are struggling for time, never skip stretching before working out because, as we said, you can stretch all of your major muscles in as little as 5 – 10 minutes, which we all have to spare.
4. Improve Your Flexibility
Not only does stretching help to increase your range of motion, but another key benefit is also the fact that it improves your flexibility.
Stretching is a great way to increase muscle elasticity, which in turn will help you to bend and stretch more and become more agile and nimble.
5. Reduce Muscle Stiffness
It doesn’t matter whether your muscles are stiff from driving a long distance, sleeping, sitting in one spot, or going through a killer workout, we can all agree on the fact that stiff muscles suck.
If your muscles are stiff and are causing you pain and discomfort and are affecting your mobility, stretching is ideal as it helps to prevent and reduce muscle stiffness.
6. Helps Protect Your Joints
When people talk about the benefits, it’s also important to understand that stretching is beneficial for your joints.
Stretching multiple times each week has been found to help significantly reduce joint degradation as you grow older.
This basically means that it helps to protect your joints and protect against conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis.
7. Can Be Done Anywhere
One of the most convenient benefits is the fact that stretching can be done anywhere, at any time.
As we mentioned briefly before, when you stretch, you don’t need access to a gym or to any fancy gym or fitness equipment.
This means that you can basically stretch anywhere.
Whether you’re at home, in the garden, at the park, at the running track, in the office, in your hotel room, or even at the gym, all you need to stretch is a small amount of open space, a flat and even surface, and you’re all set.
8. Can Help To Manage Stress
When people think of stretching, they think of extensive stretching workouts performed before a grueling and physically demanding workout.
While it is true that stretching can be done in this manner, you can also stretch in different ways too.
Yoga, for example, is an example of stretching and it is well known for its stress-busting benefits.
If you are looking to manage your stress levels, stretching is a great activity to do exactly that.
9. Reduce Your Risk Of Injury
One of the main reasons why we’re constantly told about the importance of stretching and warming up before exercise is so that we can reduce the likelihood of an injury.
When we stretch the muscles, we increase the elasticity of muscle fibers.
The more elastic they are, the less likely they will be to rip which in turn means that you are less likely to pull or tear a muscle if you have previously stretched it.
10. Help To Improve Your Posture
Poor posture is of growing concern to health experts and chiropractors.
Due to the fact that so many of us spend so much time sitting at desks working at computers, experts are worried that this may be damaging our posture.
Poor posture can increase your risk of neck pain, it can cause backache and a whole host of other ailments and issues.
The good news is that stretching is a great way to help improve your posture.
11. Improve Your Mental Health
Not only does stretching help to reduce your stress levels, but another key benefit of it is the fact that it can also help to substantially improve your mental health as well.
Stretching is a form of gentle exercise which helps to boost endorphin levels and thereby puts you in a much happier mood.
12. Stretching Helps With Weight Management
Okay, obviously you can’t lose weight and burn fat through stretching alone, but that does not mean that stretching can’t offer assistance for people looking to lose weight or maintain their weight.
Some forms of stretching are actually physically demanding and will increase your heart rate, which in turn will result in more calories being burnt off.
The more calories you burn, the more likely you will be to lose weight.
13. Tone Your Muscles
One of the more surprising benefits associated with stretching for a lot of people is the fact that doing so will actually help to tone your muscles.
Stretching your muscles still stimulates them and can still result in very minor levels of muscle hypertrophy, or muscle growth.
Okay, stretching alone won’t get you super shredded, but if you do stretch regularly in conjunction with plenty of exercises and a healthy diet, you will notice improvements in your overall levels of muscle definition.
14. Improves Your Circulation
Having poor circulation can not only hinder your athletic performance, but it can also leave you susceptible to a variety of different health issues.
The good news is that stretching helps to boost circulation, which means more blood can flow around your body and more oxygen and nutrients can be delivered to your cells in larger quantities.
15. Improved Athletic Performance
We’ve touched upon this already, but another of the awesome benefits of working out is the fact that it can improve athletic performance.
If you imagine running or jogging when your muscles are all stiff and tense, they won’t work as efficiently and you’ll find that running or sprinting becomes painful.
If your muscles are stretched and loose, you’ll be faster, you’ll be more agile, and you’ll be able to jump higher.
On top of that, as stretching boosts circulation, the more oxygen your blood can deliver to your cells, such as those that form your muscles, the more energy your muscles will have as a result.
16. Stretching Costs Virtually Nothing
If you wish to stretch before working out in the morning, or perhaps to take part in stretching workouts such as yoga and pilates, you won’t need any equipment or accessories, no fancy gym memberships, and no pay-as-you-go classes, nothing.
When you stretch, you simply need comfortable clothing, and that is pretty much it.
It is an activity that is hugely beneficial, despite costing virtually nothing.
17. Reduce Your Risk Of Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain can affect any of us, at any given time, often with no prior warning and for no good reasons.
If you experience lower back pain, stretching has been found to be a very effective way of alleviating back pain and discomfort.
It may be painful and it may seem counterintuitive to stretch and bend when you have a bad back, but providing you carry out the correct stretches in the correct way, you’ll find that gradually your lower back pain begins to ease.
18. Stretching Can Be Fun
Generally when people talk about the benefits, fun isn’t usually a word that springs to mind. Despite this, though, stretching can actually be fun and an enjoyable way to work out.
Yoga, for example, is a form of stretching and this is a physical activity and pastime which has been practiced for centuries upon centuries upon centuries.
You can create your own stretching routines, you can listen to music as you do them, and you can simply go ahead and try different stretches and movements which you happen to enjoy doing.
19. Great Way To Cool Down After A Workout
We all know about the importance of stretching and warming up before a workout, but what about after a workout?
A warm down or a cool down after a workout is very important as this helps your muscles gradually return back to normal after the stress of the workout which you put them through in the first place.
Stretching after a workout is a great way to cool down the muscles, which in turn will help to increase recovery and reduce the risk of injury.
20. Stretching Increases Your Energy Levels
If you wake up in the morning feeling tired, sluggish, and lethargic, a 10-minute stretching routine will soon change that.
Stretching is great for energy levels because it helps to wake you up and stimulate the production of endorphins and neurotransmitters which leave us feeling energized and alert.
Add to this the fact that stretching is also a fantastic way to speed up the metabolism, and it really is easy to see why stretching helps us to feel more alert and energized.
21. Stretching Improves Cardiovascular Health
Finally, the last example of the benefits which we’re looking at today is the fact that it is so beneficial for the cardiovascular system.
Stretching helps to reduce your blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, strengthens the heart, and it improves circulation.
The benefits in this instance mean that your cardiovascular health improves greatly thanks to stretching.
Okay, so, we’ve looked at the many health benefits of stretching, so is it really as beneficial and important as experts would have us believe?
Stretching is not only important for people looking to avoid injury and improve athletic performance, it can also improve your health and your overall quality of life.
If you aren’t stretching several times each week, hopefully by the time you’ve finished reading this you’ll be inspired to do exactly that?