The Importance of Stretching

If you are anything like me you may be a bit lazy about stretching before and/or after exercise. I always found that by the time I finished a grueling workout I just wanted to hit the shower, not sit there for another 5 minutes doing boring stretches!  Because I am naturally quite flexible, I seemed to get away with it in my younger years, but as I got older I noticed that I was more prone to injury so stretching became a necessity.

woman sitting doing arm stretchAs you age, your muscles tend to become tighter, which can decrease your range of motion in day to day activities. In order to prevent this it is good to get into the habit of stretching before and after your workouts. Stretching actually lengthens out your muscles, which is particularly useful after exercise as this will contract and shorten your muscles. However, even if you do not exercise regularly it is a good idea to stretch. 

Stretching is something that can take a short amount of time, but give you a lifetime of benefits. You can incorporate stretches throughout your day when it is convenient. The only prerequisite is that you warm your muscles before stretching so that they are pliable and you don't injure yourself. 

Some of the benefits of stretching include:
- Increased range of motion in your joints
- Reduced muscle tension or tightness
- Increased circulation and blood flow to various parts of your body
- Better posture and longer, leaner muscles

There are many different stretches for pretty much every muscle in your body. Click HERE to have a look at some basic stretches with proper technique. The main key is to hold each stretch for around 15-30 seconds and not to overdo it! You should feel a stretching sensation, but it shouldn't hurt!

If you want to take your stretching to another level then you could engage in Yoga. There are many excellent Yoga DVDs available, which will teach you the proper technique for all the classic poses. I remember the first time I did a proper Yoga workout my legs felt like jelly afterwards. There was a definite lengthening sensation that left my muscles subtle and flexible. It is highly recommended to incorporate Yoga into your exercise regime.

So stretch whenever you can – your muscle swill thank you for it!

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