If you’re not the kind of person who likes to exercise regularly, you probably find yourself wanting to get it over and done with as soon as possible. So, you take yourself to the gym and you immediately amp up the speed and the incline on the treadmill, or you immediately get your arms pumping on the elliptical machine. If you like to do your exercise at home, you might simply roll out of your bed, and force yourself into a run before you can go back into your house and create the ultimate bed sushi roll. Yet, by rushing your exercise routines, you may skip one of the most important aspects of your exercise attempt… Stretching! Here’s why stretching is just as important as exercise.
It’s great for your body
Many people think that stretching is just for athletes who spend hours on end running marathons or cycling the Tour de France - but that’s just not the case. Stretching is actually one of the best ways to maintain a healthy body, which is why yoga is so popular! Not only does stretching help you to improve the flexibility in your body, but it can also help to maintain proper posture by tightening your muscles. This can stop you from looking hunched on a daily basis, or even obtaining injury from the strain on your back or neck due to bad posture.
It decreases your chance of injury
One of the main reasons we need to stretch before and after exercising is because it reduces our chances of injury. When we push our bodies to the limits, we are pushing them ever closer to injury and intense muscle stress - which means you need to prepare them and warm them down after any form of physical activity. By stretching your muscles before you get going, this allows blood and nutrients to make their way into the muscles, which will aid in the prevention of injury and soreness the next day.
It’s good for your mind
Although stretching is just as important as exercise in a physical sense, it’s also extremely valuable in the mental sense. In fact, stretching is an extremely therapeutic action that can help reduce stress and anxiety to make people feel calmer and in control of their body and their life. In fact, experts suggest that stretching for just 10 to 15 minutes per day can drastically decrease your stress levels and make you feel calmer. This is because it gives you a chance to focus on your breathing and take a break from mentally thinking about what’s going on around you. It’s a chance to unwind.
But how do you do it?
We now know that stretching is incredibly important both mentally and physically, but how do you do it? Well, it seems as though there is an art to stretching - because it’s not the same as a warm-up. Before you start stretching, it’s important that you ensure that your body is warm as this will once again prevent injury or strain. Because of this, it’s often better to stretch after your workout rather than before, because your body is as warm as it can be, and your muscles are already loose.
Focus on a specific area
When you do get around to stretching, it’s also important to target a specific area. Rather than attempting to stretch your whole body, try to focus on one part of the body. It may be that one day you focus on your legs and the next you focus on your arms, or it may be that you want to stretch out your abdominal muscles. Try not to take too much on at once, and take your time!
Now you know that stretching is just as important as exercise, you better get your stretch on!