While working out is a great way to stay healthy and feel your best, pairing it with an adequate amount of stretching is just as important. There are a variety of benefits to taking a little time out of each day to incorporate more stretching and flexibility.
Benefits for the Body
Everyone knows the number one benefit of stretching is improving flexibility. The more you stretch and move your muscles the more flexible you become. Overtime it will be easier for your body and will improve your flexibility.
Poor posture is an increasing problem for most of us especially for those that sit at a desk daily. You can improve this with proper daily stretching. Stretching can strengthen the muscles and encourage proper alignment which will cause your body posture to be less slouched and you will sit upright.
When working out the more you prepare your muscles for the activity you are about to do the better the likelihood that you won’t have an injury. When your muscles are warmed up and stretched the more movement becomes easier and more fluid-like which helps with injury prevention.
Increased Nutrients and Reduced Soreness
Stretching increases blood and nutrient supply to muscles. This allows blood to flow through your body, and the nutrients in your blood is carried and spread out throughout your body as well. Another benefit of the increased blood and nutrient supply is a reduction of soreness.
Benefits for your Mind
Stretching can have a calming effect by giving your mind some quiet time to relax, let go, and release any tension you are carrying.
Many of us carry stress in our muscles without even realizing it. When we get an overwhelmed feeling this can cause the muscles to tighten as a defensive strategy. The more you stretch the less tense your muscles tend to be. This is a great way to manage your stress.
Another awesome benefit of stretching due to the increased blood and nutrient flow is a feeling of being refreshed and energized! Who doesn’t want another way to have energy!?
When should you stretch?
Before a work out the focus should always be to get things warmed up and prepared for what is to come. Think more of a dynamic warm up like walking lunges, hip circles, lunge with a twist, t-spine rotations, etc.
Post workout is a little bit different. This is when it is more important to static stretch.Static stretching involves stretches that you hold in place, without movement for about 20 to 60 seconds. In other words, you don’t move while you’re stretching a particular muscle or group of muscles. These stretches are done at the end of your workout, because your muscles are more relaxed.
To reap the many benefits of stretching try to get a minimum of 2-3 times a week. Starting your workout with a warmup of dynamic stretches and a cool down with static stretches after the workout.
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About the Author, Krystal Goodman, FNTP CPT
Krystal Goodman’s passion for fitness and nutrition can only be matched by her clients’ performance in the gym and her first-class meal-prep in the kitchen. For over ten years, Krystal has been a personal trainer, building an impressive cliental and more importantly, a reputation for her clients’ results. She has shown her expertise as a coach while instructing fitness classes at Orange Theory Fitness when she isn't training one on one. Her national certification through NCSF as a CPT along with another in the world-renowned TRX training system, and AAHFF for nutrition make Krystal a versatile fitness professional.
Moreover, Krystal launched K’s Klean Nourish in the Fall of 2019, creating the perfect clean-eating meal planning and nutrition counseling solution for life’s demanding schedules. Nationally certified by the Nutritional Therapy Association as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Krystal’s knowledge of nutrition extends far beyond her incredible penchant for cooking.