Stretching is right up there with regular exercise and eating right when it comes to being fully fit. However, it is the one ingredient to being healthy that most of us fail to take in on a regular basis, if at all. But, the truth remains that stretching provides many benefits, so let’s get to bending and pulling.
Benefits of Stretching
- The more you stretch, the more flexible your body will become, and the more flexible you are the better your joints and muscles are protected from injury.
- Helps you stand and sit upright properly. Improving your posture is a major plus in the modern world with so many of us spending our days hunched over in front of computers. Sitting and standing as we were designed protects our cores from common injuries such as bad backs.
- Speeds up post-workout recovery by increasing the flow of nutrients to our bodies’ cells. If you are frequently sore after working out, you need to start stretching!
- Stretching gives you me-time. Usually taking up no more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time, a stretching session gives you a moment to relax your body and mind after workouts. These types of opportunities are especially valuable in today’s busy world.
What to Stretch
While you should try to do full body stretching sessions a few times a month, for the most part you will benefit most from stretching problem areas. Focusing on tight or sore parts of the body will help them loosen up and recover quickly while taking up no more than a quarter of an hour at a time.
When to Stretch
Although there is some disagreement on when to stretch, most health care and exercise professionals agree that everyone needs to stretch after working out. In fact, many point out that stretching cold muscles can lead to injury fairly easily, so if you stretch before working out make sure you take it easy. Instead, they point out, stretch while your body is still warm from exercise to start your body’s recovery.
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on December 14, 2014