Benefits of Stretching Exercises

Stretching exercises are a critical part of any exercise routine. 

Stretching can help lengthen and prepare the muscles for exercise or sports. 

There are debates as to whether or not stretching before an exercise routine does in fact reduce the risk of injury. 

There are also conflicts of how to stretch properly and how long a person should stretch. 

Even though these items are debated, it is general knowledge and agreed upon by the experts that there are benefits to performing stretching exercises.

Keep reading to learn about all the benefits of stretching before your next workout.

Stretching Exercises

Check out the different fitness videos on this site for stretching out your body. The lower body stretches is a series of seven stretches for the glutes, hamstrings, hips and legs. Use the links below to do a specific stretch or visit the lower body stretches page to start from the beginning.

Streching for Your Health

After a long workout of jogging on the treadmill or completing your circuit training routine, don’t dismiss the need to stretch out those muscles. 

The benefits of stretching go beyond just being part of a complete exercise routine and stretching the muscles.

Increased Flexibility

Stretching increases your flexibility and helps improve daily activities and tasks. 

Simple things like tying your shoes, bending down to pick up your child or sprinting to catch a bus are easier with better flexibility.

Better Range of Motion

Improved range of motion in your joints is just another benefit of stretching exercises. 

With a good range of motion you are better balanced and reduce risk of falling and injury from these falls.

This is especially important as you grow older.

Stress Relief

Stress can cause many medical complications and illness. 

Finding ways to relieve stress can help with weight loss and peace of mind. 

Stretching is a great way to help relieve stress and helps to relax tense muscles that are usually accompanied with stress.

Improved Circulation

Stretching exercises increases the blood flow to your muscles.  This increase in blood flow and improved circulation can reduce the time needed to heal injuries to your muscles.

Good Posture

Stretching helps to keep your muscles loose and prevents tightening of the muscles.  This in turn helps to maintain a proper posture and reduces aches and pains.  Stretching is especially beneficial in reducing lower back pain and injury.

When and How to Stretch

To get the benefits of stretching exercises you want to make sure you do them correctly and do them at the right times.  Here are some basics of stretching.

Warm up your Muscles

You should never stretch when your muscles have not yet been properly warmed up.  Before doing your stretching exercises warm up for 5 to 10 minutes by lightly jogging or marching in place moving your legs and arms. 

Think of your muscles like a cold rubber band.  When you stretch the rubber band when it is cold the rubber band has less give when trying to stretch it to the full length. 

If you stretch a cold rubber band to its full length it will more than likely snap and tear.  The same goes for cold muscles.  When the muscles are cold there is less give and so it you over stretch a cold muscle you risk injury. 

group of people doing stretching exercisesStretch Before Exercise or Sports

Although doing stretching exercises before a workout is widely debated, it is believed that stretching before certain activities can help minimize injury.

It also gives you a wider range of motion during the activity.  As a general rule, you should stretch before an aerobic exercise and active sports. 

Target Stretching

When performing your stretching routine, target all the major muscles like your hips, thighs, calves, back, shoulders, arms and neck. 

By stretching these major muscles you are properly getting them ready for your exercise routine or your every day activities.  You should also target stretch specific muscles you plan on using during your workout or the activities you perform daily.

Hold It

When stretching you want to hold the stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds and up to 60 seconds for those really tight muscles.  It takes time to safely lengthen the tissues and muscles, so be sure to hold the stretch for the maximum benefit of your stretching exercises. 

Count slowly or watch the second hand to make sure you are holding the stretch for the right amount of time. Additionally, don’t bounce during your stretch.  You want to simply hold the stretch in place and deepen the hold it need be to really loosen the muscles. 

Bouncing the stretch can create small tears in the muscle.  These tears can leave scar tissue during the healing process and this scar tissue causes the muscle to tighten even further.

Pain is not the Goal

You don’t have to “feel the pain” to be effective at stretching.  You want to feel the tension while you stretch but not the pain.  If you feel pain then loosen the stretch a bit until it is tense but not painful.  Remember to breathe while you do your stretches and relax. 

Try these lower body stretches and upper body stretches.

For a full list of stretching exercises on this site visit the free fitness videos page.

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