There are sometimes that you can’t perform in your workouts the way that you thought that you should. In these scenarios you may attribute your bad workout to not getting enough sleep, being too stressed, or possibly transitioning to a harder workout routine. Often times though, the reason for your lack of workout prowess is most likely related to your stretching routine (or lack thereof). Let’s look closer at why stretching is the most important part of your workout and how to incorporate better stretching exercises into your fitness regimen.

What Are The Benefits of Stretching?

Regular stretching keeps muscles long, lean, and flexible, allowing any heavy lifting to not put as much stress on your muscles and giving you the chance to balance better and avoid falls. This added flexibility also gives your joints more range of motion that keeps your muscles from getting too tight during and following your strength training sessions. If you’re not stretching, you will ultimately put yourself at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage in the future.

Stretching once today won’t magically give you perfect flexibility though. You’ll need to do it over time and remain committed to the process. It takes weeks to months to get flexible and you’ll have to continue working on it to maintain it so be patient with your stretching routine and monitor your progress as you go to get better as to how you’re doing.

Increases Blood Flow To Your Muscles

When you stretch on a regular basis a wonderful thing happens to your body: you begin to improve your circulation. When you improve your circulation that also improves the blood flow to your muscles which can shorten your recovery time and reduce muscle soreness. This means that instead of having to wait a week to train a specific muscle group after a workout, you may only need half that time which will help you make better gains.

Improves Your Posture

Many Americans deal with poor posture due to a variety of reasons that stem from workplaces and after-work activities becoming more sedentary. Stretching helps to wake to strengthen your core muscle groups that encourage proper alignment, thus improving your posture. Having good posture will not only help you lift properly and avoid injuries in the gym but also avoid discomfort and help give you confidence in your daily life.

Decreases Your Stress Levels

Regularly stretching has been shown to reduce mental tension. When you combine your stretching with mindful breathing techniques (i.e. Yoga), you may also help to decrease anxiety and depression. Those who currently deal with chronic stress who take a more active role in stretching will welcome not having as much anxiety, fatigue, and tension in their lives.

Key Stretching Tips To Follow

Just like flossing is just as important to your oral health as brushing is, so is stretching to your health and wellness. Of course, if you want to receive the most benefits from your stretching routine, you need to make sure you only stretch when your muscles are warm. If you start stretching right out of the gates, you risk getting injured. If you would like to stretch before a vigorous workout, try taking a short walk or jog to warm up your muscles first, next you may start stretching, and then you may begin your workout.

When you begin your stretching routine, make sure to also limit bouncing altogether. This action can lead to muscle tears and the development of scar tissue which can further tighten the muscle and decrease its range of motion. Instead of bouncing, take your time with your stretching, opting to hold your stretches for 15-60 seconds and repeating your routine three or four times. Doing this will allow you to reap the full benefits of stretching and decrease your risk of injury.

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