Benefits of Stretching
Stretching is often the activity which most people overlook as part of their exercise routine and at best it might consist of a rushed cool down.
It might be time to have a rethink, because although stretching isn’t the most exciting it’s actually one of the most important elements when it comes to achieving your fitness goals. The basic benefits of stretching are:
Improves Strength and Muscle Definition
Stretching increasing your 'range of motion' when performing an exercise. So when it comes to picking up those weights and completing a rep, you will be able to increase the distance thereby increasing the amount of muscle fibres activated. This increase in activated fibres leads to improved strength and greater muscle definition.
Helps to Avoid Injury
If your muscles are tight, it becomes more difficult to perform exercises correctly as we have decreased range of motion. This can lead to other muscles overcompensating. Over time your muscles will start to develop these imbalances, which puts added strain on the incorrect muscles. It is this strain that increases the risk injury.
Improved Posture and Balance
Without focusing on increasing muscular flexibility it will begin to affect your posture. Stretching your body allows you to have proper skeletal alignment and corrects any imbalances. Plus, with an increased range of motion you may find it easier to sit and stand.
If you regularly feel stressed and fatigued it could well be because of a lack of stretching. Tight muscles can lead to painful knots and soreness, which play a part in our overall stress levels. To really get the most out of your stretching remember to breathe deeply as you perform the stretch. Breathing correctly is just as important as the stretch itself. Try inhale at the top of your stretch and exhale slowly as you relax your muscles. Try to hold the position for at least 30 sec while breathing in and out normally.
If you are still struggling to find the time to add stretching to your routine then it might be easier to swap one of your lower impact workouts for a dedicated stretching class, such as Yoga or Pilates. These classes are specifically aimed to focus on muscular imbalances and can really help you to feel recharged.