Time-crunched gym rats are often tempted to jump right on the treadmill when you get to the gym to start sweating immediately, but the most important thing you can do for your body is to warm up with proper stretching. Cold, idle muscles can tear when shocked with abrupt exercise, but gently working the muscles can prevent injury and help your body reach its full potential during your workout. Remember, stretch both sides of your body equally and don’t push until it hurts, instead find the spot where you feel tension and hold for at least 30 seconds, more time for problem areas. Here are some of the best benefits you’ll see when you incorporate stretching into your fitness routine:
As you age, muscles shorten, and you lose flexibility – anyone else have distant memories of effortlessly tumbling through your backyard as a child? To stay active, its essential we work to maintain mobility with loose, flexible muscles. Improving your range of motion also decreases your risk for injuries and gives you better balance – another way to avoid falling and hurting yourself during a workout (or throughout your day).
Seemingly unavoidable, stress plays an active role in our healthy and everyday lives. Although relaxing, stretching exercises the muscles and releases endorphins – our best ally in the fight against stress. Stretching also reduces tension headaches and can relieve fatigue and insomnia.
Routinely stretching your back, neck and shoulders is essential to correct the damage caused by hunching over a desk or laptop all day. Our bodies adopt to the positions we spend the most time, causing our frames to take curved and slumped statures. Stretching also manages the painful tight muscles that lead to poor posture and loosens your hips, lower back and hamstrings for a strong, flexible spine.
Stretching increases blood flow, naturally upping your energy levels by feeding your muscles with more glucose and oxygen so they are ready for peak performance. Bonus: Better circulation also means less soreness after a workout.