I get it, stretching isn't fun. You don't feel like you get much out of it... you aren't really burning extra calories, you aren't stacking on more muscle mass, and it adds extra time to your workout routine. Seems like a lose, lose, lose... right?
Well, the title of this post is definitely a spoiler... stretching and flexibility work is a necessary "evil" in any fitness routine. I won't delay any longer, here are your top 5 reasons to take an extra 20 minutes and stretch out.
1. Decreasing Muscle Stiffness/ Tightness- I'm sure this scenario is all to familiar; you go to the gym fired up and kill yourself with a high intensity workout. You feel great all day in your post-workout glory, but the next morning rolls around and all the sudden you feel like you got hit by a train. Hell, you might even use it as an excuse to skip today's workout too.
Let's work to avoid this scenario in the future by taking a few minutes to stretch out after that killer workout. This will not only help with your overall range of motion, but it will help to prevent that tightening, aching pain that follows a tough workout.
2. Improved Posture- We often develop poor posture due to the overuse of one set of muscles and the resulting lack of flexibility (shoulders always rotated forwards from your desk work?). By keeping your muscles loose and able to move through their full range of motion you are helping your body from defaulting into poor posture positions.
3. Injury Prevention- Loose muscles with a full range of motion are also less likely to be susceptible to many common injuries. Muscle pulls, strains, tears... never fun and often completely preventable by taking the time to get loose!
A pre-workout dynamic stretch (warm-up) and post-workout static stretch is a great game plan to maximize your injury prevention efforts with respect to flexibility (there are many other key aspects to injury prevention).
4. Improved Performance- Flexible muscles and joints requires less energy to move through the full range of motion, which means that we are able to produce more fluid, energy efficient movements.
Furthermore, stretching also increases blood supply to our muscles, thus improving circulation which in turn helps with nutrient transportation. This too increases our overall efficiency and could help with overall performance improvements.
5. Decrease Stress and Tension- Last but certainly not least, an increase in joint/ muscle mobility means more laxity in our muscles. I'd be shocked if we haven't all hit that point of stress where your entire body feels tense. Your neck aches, your back is tight, and every movement brings with it a slight pinch or ache.
Keeping your flexibility and mobility up through consistent stretching will absolutely help ease muscle tension and decrease that awful feeling of tightness that can accompany our stress.
If you weren't sold on stretching before, I hope that you now understand it's importance a bit more. For more wellness practices and fitness content be sure to check us out on social media! We are on Instagram (@fueledbygrit_) and Facebook (Fueled By Grit).