Stretching: The Most Important Part of the Workout?

01.Stretch.NationalMall.WDC.10apr06The number one skipped part of exercising is stretching. In fact, many people just spend a few minutes doing a quick stretch before their main exercise, if they even bother to stretch at all. New studies are finding that stretching is even more important than cardio workouts.

Stretching is important to the body for a number of different reasons:

  • It helps improve flexibility. As you know, the more flexibility you have, the more range of movement you have. Flexibility can also prevent injuries.
  • Stretching also helps lengthen the muscle, especially tight ones. Imagine your muscles are a rubber band. They need to be stretched slowly and often to stay healthy.
  • Stretching can also help increase the amount of blood and nutrients the muscles get, therefore it cuts down on muscle soreness.

All of the above benefits are definitely note-worthy, but as far as benefits go, that is not all. Stretching can also benefit the mind by helping individuals deal with anxiety and stress. Taking a few minutes to stretch before bed or before you start your day can help you pull your thoughts together and enter a relaxed, calm state of mind.

Now that you know how worthy stretching is for not only your workout routine but as an every day activity, you have to make sure that you are stretching correctly.

First off, a few moving stretches are helpful during a workout. For example, jogging in place followed by squats help stretch out the muscles and get them warm. However, just doing toe touches before you run is not going to be beneficial since your muscles are still “cold.” The best time to stretch is after a workout because the muscles will be warm and needing a little extra love. Take your time to stretch and hold stretches after your workout for the best results.

Also, remember to take some time and focus on the muscles that really need it. Focus on tight muscles and sore muscles. Hold their stretches longer and be sure to do a variety of stretches and yoga moves for any muscles that need it. This will help prevent injuries in your next workout.

Finally, to reap the most benefits from stretching, include a longer session of stretching to your week. This can be from yoga, pilates, or another stretching routine. This is especially nice after a long week of hard workouts, since it gives your body the time to rest and recuperate.

Stretching is one part of your exercise routine that should not be skimped on. Stretching is essential for everyone, especially those who are older. Unfortunately, as we age, our bodies don’t recover and bounce back like they once use to. Stretching helps keep your muscles healthy and able to perform.

 

Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.

 

Story Credit, Image Credit: 01.Stretch.NationalMall.WDC.10apr06 by Elveret Barnes. Used under Creative Commons license.

This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.