Stretching is a key part of exercise that is often ignored, even by experienced athletes. Sure, it’s not as gratifying as hitting a deep squat or crushing kilometers on a treadmill, but it’s something that can’t be ignored if you want to avoid injury.
One of the biggest obstacles to a regular workout is lack of time. Our days can feel too short to get everything done and it's easy to save a little time by skipping stretching. While this isn’t likely to cause issues immediately, it’s a terrible habit to get into.
As we work out, we damage our muscles and cause them to become tight and contract. Over time this can leave us feeling sore, restrict our range of motion and cause injuries. Stretching addresses this problem but it also has some other amazing benefits.
Here are five key reasons you should incorporate stretching into your workout routine.
The stresses of our daily lives can leave us feeling tired, anxious and tense. Regular stretching is proven to reduce these effects, with Yoga famously effective as a stress buster. Alongside stretching, mindful breathing is a great way to decrease anxiety and calm a stressed mind. When stretching, try to slow your breathing as much as possible and settle into the position with as little tension as possible.
Regular stretching is also proven to reduce blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate. It directly counters the body’s physiological response to stress and muscular tension. Stretching offers a safe space in which our bodies can heal.
Improved Range of Motion
Those of us who sit at a desk for work likely have tight hips and hamstrings. This effect can be reversed through regular stretching. Keeping our joints loose and limber is key to injury avoidance and leading a full life. Stretching keeps us feeling young and pain free as we get older.
Regular stretching has been shown to improve agility, power, speed and muscular strength. Take the squat movement as an example. Stretching aids in helping our bodies adapt to handling heavy weights at deep ranges of motion. Sitting in a deep squat for one minute per day opens up our hips and groin and strengthens our muscles at maximum range of motion.
Reduced Wear and Tear
A flexible joint requires less energy to move through a wider range of motion. Without stretching, opposing muscles can become tight and constricted, leading to uneven forces on our joints. Over time, this causes injury and pain. Stretching is key for optimal movement and less stress on our bodies.
Ready to Help
Whether you need help with stretching suggestions, or are looking to put together a killer workout program, VanCity Physio is standing by to assist. To find out more, or book an appointment, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.