Flexibility and stretching
Flexibility and stretching
Keeping your muscles supple helps to prevent injuries, aches and pains. If you want your body to stay in good shape, it’s vital to practice stretches as part of your exercise routine.
Cut down on chronic pain
Tight muscles – the result of poor posture, for example – are a known cause and contributing factor to back problems and chronic pain issues. Performing gentle stretching exercises, perhaps over several months, can sometimes help to reduce the unpleasant sensations.
We all know that exercise is good for us. Whether the primary motivation is wellbeing, improved health, or good looks, people exercise to feel happy in their own bodies.
Most of us work out either to put on muscle or to shed fat. With all this focus on body composition, we tend to neglect a very important component of fitness and wellbeing: flexibility.
If your body was a machine, your articulation would be the hinges: If the hinges get rusty, the machine is going to be stiff, slow and difficult to use, but if they are lubricated every day, then the machine will last much longer and be easier to work with.
While exercising, you contract and tense your muscles. The more you exercise, the more tension you create in your body, and while this is good for building muscle and improving general health, it also puts more stress on your articulations: a contracted muscle is shorter and thicker, and therefore pulls on your ligaments and does not allow your articulations the same range of motion as long, supple muscles.
If you skip stretching these tensions accumulate in the body, creating health issues in the long term.
This can also potentially hinder your progress in the gym. Your muscles will stay short and tensed and will accumulate fatigue over the months, which will prevent them from contracting to an optimal range of motion while you are working out. A reduced range of motion can impact your workout and sports performance, and make even day-to-day activities like reaching objects on high shelves or bending to pick something up more difficult.
The accumulated tension will also slow your recovery in between workouts, not only affecting your performance negatively but also increasing the risk of strain injuries.
To prevent this, make sure you don’t skip your stretches. Try to get into a simple routine that you can stick to every day, even on days when you’re not doing any other exercise. Start your workout with a few dynamic stretches to loosen up and warm up, and finish it with some static stretches, with a special focus on the body parts you have used, to cool down and elongate your muscles.
Stretching and circulation
Stretching is a vital part of any exercise routine. When you exercise – especially when using heavy weights – your muscles stay short and tense, but your veins are also compressed and this affects your blood circulation. Your body will be less efficient at bringing oxygen and nutrients to the muscle.
In the long term this also hinders the development of your muscles, which will in turn affect your fat loss negatively – the more muscle mass you have, the higher your basal metabolism is, and the more calories you burn.
Proper stretching alleviates this issue, helping you to achieve your health goals faster.