Struggling to touch your toes? Suffer from stiffness that limits your daily tasks? Find out why stretching is so important and how you can increase your flexibility and range of motion.
Many of us neglect proper stretching and flexibility training. We forego warm-ups to jump right into exercise and skip cooldowns to rush out of the gym quickly. But over time, a limited range of motion can wreak havoc on your health—from poor posture to debilitating aches and pains. In this article, we’ll dive into why flexibility is so important and demonstrate 5 reasons why stretching is good for you.
Why is Flexibility Important?
When we think of working out, sweat-induced HIIT classes, cardio machines, weight training and boxing may come to mind. While these types of classes help us shed fat, gain strength and get toned, they neglect an important component of fitness—flexibility. Incorporating flexibility into your workout routine has many positive effects on your body—from improved mobility, posture and muscle coordination to reduced risk of injury and decreased muscle soreness.
And what we may not realize is that stretching leads to a better overall “shape.” Stretching increases your range of motion, which allows you to perform certain exercises with better technique. When you perfect exercise technique, you’re able to call on all the muscles for activity, which allows you to build strength and improves your metabolism.
If you neglect regular flexibility training, your muscles will shorten with time. Limited flexibility and range of motion will restrict your daily life. So, don’t forget to warm up and cool down, especially since stretching increases the blood flow to your muscles.
If you’re still not convinced, here are 5 good reasons to add stretching to your daily routine.
#1 Better Posture, Less Aches and Pains and Increased Confidence
It’s so easy to skip stretching, especially since the results aren’t as visible as squatting, lunging or jumping. But with consistency, stretching leads to better posture, fewer aches and pains, greater confidence and a better mood.
Flexibility training not only impacts your body, it also enhances your mind. Adding stretching to your routine increases your blood flow and circulation through your body and sends oxygen to your brain for a clearer mind and better mood.
#2 Best for Your Booty
Do you sit behind a desk all day? Hours of sitting is hard on your body, especially your glutes. Sitting causes the nerves that activate your glutes to shut down. If you sit a lot, your glute muscles will atrophy (waste away) as a result of muscle degeneration.
When your glutes shut down, the surrounding muscles and joints become overstressed. This oftentimes results in aches and pains, such as lower back stiffness.
The most effective way to combat this is to activate your glutes. Periodically, get up out of your seat and stretch your glutes and hip flexors. Regular stretching can help reduce future injury and pain.
#3 Anti-Aging Agent
Not only do muscles get weaker as we age, but they also become tighter over time. As you age, your body becomes less flexible, less stable, slower and weaker. With age, you lose elasticity in muscle, fascia and skin. Sarcopenia (muscle loss) and osteopenia (bone loss) are common aspects of aging, especially among women. Both contribute to less strength, speed and endurance. While it does get harder to build muscle with age, it’s not impossible. Strength training combined with stretching keeps your bones healthier for longer.
And the good news is that flexibility and strength can be improved at any age, so it’s never too late!
#4 Better Balance Between Stretch and Strength
Daily use (or non-use) of muscles can cause them to get tight, especially if you work out, carry a backpack or bag or (on the opposite end of the spectrum) lead a sedentary life. Stretching alleviates muscle tightness and makes your body feel balanced. The healthiest bodies are balanced in both strength and flexibility. This balance has a significant impact on injury prevention and supports the overall fitness of your body as a whole.
#5 Mood Booster
Tight muscles not only cause stress in your body, they can also bear down on your mind. Undue stress can affect you both emotionally and physically. When you stretch, you let go. This release connects you to your body, clears your mind and purges any negative energy you may experience.
Set Realistic Expectations
Becoming more flexible takes consistency and patience, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results right away. Work on improving your flexibility daily and you’ll see results over time. And don’t just focus on the physical aspect. Flexibility takes focus, mental strength and persistence to achieve the goal you’re aiming for. Stick to it, keep stretching and get the results you want over time.