Stretch Your Limits

Why stretching is a critical part of your program

Flexibility is an important part of your exercise program, yet it's often neglected. How often have you gone through your routine and then decided to skip stretching because you're tired or ready to get home? I've done it...we all have from time to time. But, being flexible will help you function better throughout the day, protect you from injury and make you feel good.

The Benefits of Stretching

Keeping your muscles and ligaments flexible is important because tight muscles can cause chronic pain.

For example, sitting all day can cause tight hip flexors and loose gluteal muscles. This muscular imbalance can make the joint weaker as parts of the bone bare more weight than they should. In many cases, back pain is caused by tight hamstrings which can cause the hips and pelvis to rotate back and causing back problems.

Janiss Garza, About's former Yoga guru says, "It is a cardinal fitness sin to skip stretching after a workout. If you want to promote stiffness, invite injury and lengthen your recovery time, you can do all that by not stretching the moment you finish your exercise routine and just head right back to your desk or the couch."

More benefits of stretching include:

  • Improved performance
  • Reduced soreness and lower back pain
  • Increased blood flow to the body
  • Improved coordination
  • Keeps you active and mobile as you age
  • It feels good

The Basics of Stretching

Your stretching program doesn't have to be complicated.

Following these simple rules can make your routine safe and easy:

  • Make sure you stretch warm muscles. Stretching cold muscles can cause injuries so save your stretch for after your warm up or, even better, after your workout
  • Never bounce when you stretch. This forces the muscle to go beyond what is comfortable and can cause injury
  • Stretch all the muscles you use during your workout, lingering on any areas that are tight or tender.
  • Hold each stretch for about 15-30 30 seconds and try to do each stretch 2 or more times

Stretching and Flexibility Workouts