Stretch for flexibility, health, tension release and overall performance.
We know we should all stretch, but when time is short and we want to get our workout in, stretching afterwards can easily be omitted. Flexibility is one of the five components of fitness and should be part of every exercise regimen. Stretching is good for both our bodies and our mind.
What stretching does for the body:
- Increases flexibility and range of motion
- Improves posture by keeping muscles lengthened
- Prepares muscles for the activities of the day
- Increases blood supply to muscles which decreases muscle soreness
- Decreases risk of injury
- Improves athletic performance
- Decreases stiffness
- Improves fine muscle coordination which in turn improves balance
- When done after a workout it reduces the lactic acid that builds up during the workout. Lactic acid can cause muscle soreness and fatigue
What stretching does for the mind:
- Even 10-15 minutes of stretching is calming
- Taking time to stretch allows the body to recharge
- Stretching releases tension and stress
- Eliminate the 3 PM afternoon slump by taking a stretch break and wake up
- Stretching before bed can ease women into sleep (study participants were only women, but it makes sense it would work for men as well)
- Studies have shown that participants who stretched and toned performed better on memory and thinking tests one year into the study than they did at the onset
- Studies have shown that it is more important to stretch after a workout than prior to a workout.
- Don’t feel every muscle you have needs to be stretched. Critical areas for mobility are calves, hamstrings, hip flexors and quadriceps.
- What you stretch on one side of the body you must also stretch on the other.
- Stretch by simply holding the move without bouncing.
Stretching is also important for kids!
- It’s good to get kids in the habit of stretching early
- It gets kids warmed up and ready to play
- Reduces risk of injury and quickens the recovery from an injury
- Increases their range of motion and flexibility