It’s one of the most-often repeated fitness tips: make sure you stretch after each workout. But why is it so important to stretch your muscles? Here are five reasons that you should stretch out after your workout, and indeed, why you should try and stretch daily.
- It helps prevent injuries.
Tight muscles are more prone to injuries, and a lack of stretching on a regular basis can lead to those injuries that can sideline you for days or weeks. Taking a few minutes before a tough workout to warm-up through light activity and active stretching is important, but it’s equally important to take another five or ten minutes, in the end, to stretch out again. This can help keep your muscles loose and aid in the recovery process as well, and you’ll be able to hit the gym hard the next day.
- It helps maintain joint health.
If you’re not worried about arthritis in your old age, you should be. Joint health should be at the forefront of your thinking, even if you’re still relatively young. It’s similar to saving for retirement; a little bit of effort early on will pay dividends later in life. Stretching daily can help keep your joints healthy, especially if you lead a more sedentary lifestyle or have a job that keeps you at a desk most of the day.
- It’ll help you age better.
Mobility in your later years is a real concern, and nothing can help you keep an active lifestyle in your retirement years as a good stretching regimen. If you’re pressed for time, focus on the lower extremities, as these are what you need to be able to move around. You don’t have to hit every single muscle you have but definitely focus on the larger muscle groups like your hamstrings, glutes, and calves. You’re working hard towards your retirement years, and you want to enjoy them!
- It stimulates blood flow.
A good deep stretch can help stimulate the blood system and get the blood flowing throughout the body, aiding in circulation and getting oxygen to damaged tissue after a workout. Having good circulation is definitely important and is critical to all of your other body processes, and muscle repair and growth is no exception. This also helps reduce the amount of waste and lactic acid in your muscles, as the blood is able to get it out of the body more efficiently. That’s why a good stretch can also help reduce muscle soreness after exercise.
- It improves balance.
Properly stretched muscles are longer and more flexible, and get less strain put on them when under stress, such as during exercise. As mentioned above, this helps avoid injury, as the muscle fibers are getting less tension put directly on them since it’s spread over a larger area. However, healthy muscles also help you keep balanced more. Whether you’re doing resistance training, HIIT, or cardio, proper balance is essential to maintain good form, prevent injury, and get the most out of your workout.
Although there are plenty of other reasons to stretch daily, these are five of the most compelling and should help convince you that stretching is an important part of anyone’s life. Just taking a few minutes a day to do a good, deep stretch is something that will pay dividends over the course of your life.