A stretch routine is an absolutely necessary part of any workout program and can even be of immense benefit to those who don't work out. Flexibility is a key component of fitness, and a regular stretching routine can help you maintain good physical health for years to come. Here are some of the reasons why you should incorporate a stretch routine into your workout regimen.
Makes You More Flexible and Protects You from Injury
Stretching lengthens your muscles and makes them more supple, to increase your range of motion. Increased range of motion can also help treat and prevent degenerative joint disorders like arthritis.
Stretching regularly also reduces your risk of injury. You should always remember to warm up and stretch before an exercise routine, as cold, stiff muscles become injured more easily. Stretching regularly increases overall muscular flexibility to help protect you from injury, even after your workout ends.
Reduces Pain and Helps You Relax
Stretching your muscles after you work out helps to keep them from growing short and tight as they cool. Stretching also increases blood flow to your muscle tissues, to remove the lactic acid that can accumulate in your muscles and cause post workout muscle soreness.
A regular stretching routine also helps to relieve stress and tension by keeping your muscles long and loose. Long, loose muscles are less likely to hold tension, so you'll experience reduced stress if you stretch regularly. Stretching helps oxygenate the muscle tissues and increases the amount of nutrients your muscles receive, so that they're more likely to stay relaxed.
Stretching promotes good circulation and relieves back pain.
Improves Posture and Performance
Stretching, especially stretching the muscles in the upper back and chest, improves your posture and balance so you'll breathe easier, fall less often (and therefore experience fewer injuries) and have less back and joint pain. Stretching improves performance because it helps to keep joints lubricated and healthy. A well lubricated, healthy joint requires less energy to move, so stretching can help you use your energy more efficiently. Stretching before a workout helps your muscles become more elastic, so they're better able to withstand the stress of exercise.
Should Be Done Carefully
While a good stretching routine offers many benefits and is necessary both before and after a workout, stretching should be done carefully in order to avoid injury. You should always be careful to warm up your muscles before stretching; stretching cold muscles can be just as injurious as exercising with no warm up at all. Perform about ten minutes of gentle exercise before beginning your stretching routine.
Make sure you're properly balanced and supported during any stretching exerises you might perform. If you lose your balance in the middle of a stretch routine, you could hurt yourself badly.
Make sure not to hyperextend any joints, like your elbows or knees, while stretching. Keep elbows and knees slightly bent to avoid joint injury due to hyperextension.
Don't try to stretch beyond your limit. Flexibility should be built up gradually; if you try to force it, you could hurt yourself.