The Importance of Stretching

We’ve heard it over and over again, yet many of us don’t take the time to do it. We either rush through our stretches, wait until we’ve overdone it and are stiff or sore and then stretch, or we simply skip it altogether.

Stretching has many benefits besides the good old “stretch to avoid injury” mantra.
It should be used with every workout program, at certain periods during the day (whether you sit at a desk or have a physically demanding job) and can also be used on your days off or your rest days to keep stiffness at bay and keep your muscles flexible. Yoga and Pilates also have excellent stretching components.

Stretching reduces muscle soreness after a workout, and lengthens the muscle to improve flexibility, mobility and circulation. To get the best results you need to stretch before and after a workout or physical activity. Do a 5 minute warm-up at a low or medium pace to warm up your muscles prior to your pre-workout stretch. (Don’t stretch your muscles when they’re cold!) Stretching after your training session is equally important. Hold all stretches steady for 20-30 seconds each, do not bounce. Be sure to include each muscle group that you used in your training and always stretch both sides equally.

However stretching should not be painful! Don’t over extend yourself. If you have any injuries such as sprains, fractures, etc, or inflamed joints, always be sure to check with your doctor before you do any stretching or physical activity.