Stretching often seems to be the underdog of physical activity. Sometimes it’s overlooked because we’re in a rush to complete a workout. Or maybe it’s because the results don’t seem quite as obvious as weightlifting…which couldn’t be further from the truth, by the way.
You may not see huge muscle gains from it, but regular stretching offers plenty of physical and mental benefits. So why is stretching important? These are our top five reasons.
Stretching improves athletic performance
No matter the type of exercise you’re about to endure, stretching should always be incorporated into your pre-and post-workout routine. Stretching before your workout warms muscles up, making you less prone to injury, while concluding with stretching can help decrease muscle soreness. Plus a regular stretching routine translates to a better range of motion. That means you’ll squat lower, power through an overhead lift easier, and move more efficiently.
Stretching prevents injuries
Overly tight muscles can affect your form when you exercise, which makes it easier to get hurt. Without your even realizing it, stronger muscles compensate for the tight ones. Regular stretching will correct those muscular imbalances so you’re a lot less likely to get hurt.
Stretching boosts energy
3:00pm slump got you down? When you’re completely wiped, give stretching a shot. It increases the blood flow throughout your body quickly, so it can perk you up real fast. Plus you’ll save some cash by skipping the afternoon coffee run.
Stretching improves posture
For most of us who sit at a desk all day, tight shoulders and chest muscles are the norm. Tight muscles lead to a condition called upper cross syndrome, or hunched shoulders, which causes frequent discomfort or a throbbing sensation. Instead of treating the symptom with a heat pack or massage, stretching addresses and corrects the cause.
Stretching is good for your mental health
Stress can wreak havoc on your muscles by causing them to tense up. And even though it’s inevitable from the hustle and bustle of daily life, stress isn’t good for your mental health either. But stretching provides a well-deserved break, calms the mind, and loosens tight muscles. Let everything else go while you stretch to fully enjoy some invaluable “me” time.