Many of us know the benefits of cardiovascular training and weights training, and how they work together to increase our overall health. But what about stretching? It isn’t unusual for gym users to only stretch occasionally or even skip it altogether. After all, stretching doesn’t feel like much of a workout and may not seem as important as the other parts of your workout regimen. In reality, stretching is an essential part of any well-rounded fitness routine. It includes many huge benefits and compliments the rest of the work you’re doing at the gym. Here are four significant gains you will notice when you prioritize stretching in your fitness routine.
Decreased Risk of Injury
One of the greatest benefits of regular stretching, for lifters and cardio-lovers alike, is a decreased risk of injury. Stretching increases the flexibility and strength of your muscles, which in turn protects your joints from over-extension and sprains. Additionally, when you include dynamic stretches in your warm up, they help to warm-up your body and prepare it for the remainder of your fitness routine. This increase in blood flow protects your muscles and tendons from injuries that would be more likely if they were cold.
The end of your fitness routine should also include stretching. Not only is this the best time to increase flexibility, it also reduces the severity of any pain or stiffness you might encounter the next day. Also, research has shown that the regular use of static stretches reduces muscle tension, stiffness, chronic back and neck pain, and may also reduce muscle cramps.
Improved Circulation, Balance, and Range of Motion
Almost everyone familiar with fitness could tell you that stretching increases flexibility. But did you know that it also benefits your circulation, balance, and range of motion? All of these traits are essential to your fitness success, making stretching a valuable tool. An increase in circulation means that more oxygen is being delivered to your brain and muscles throughout your fitness routine. Better balance means you can tackle more difficult and challenging forms of exercise. And a wider range of motion gives you more stability and grace as you exercise. These are amazing outcomes for a practice as simple as gentle stretches!
Less Stress on Joints
A very important part of exercise, especially if you are new to working out or have a past injury, is protecting your joints from excess strain. When muscles are consistently tight, the tension causes pain, discomfort, and even injury to nearby joints. When you add stretching to your fitness routine, you lengthen those tense muscles and keep balance around your joints. This makes your joints stronger, healthier, and more able to support you.
While stretching is often neglecting, it is an important part of a complete fitness routine. Be sure that your stretches are gentle and slow. Stretching should never be abrupt or take you to the point of pain. Foam rollers and massage balls are great tools to assist you in lengthening muscles and being kind to your body. If you would like to know more about the types of stretches you should be doing, ask your personal trainer at your next session. Don’t have a trainer? Visit FitPro West to meet the best trainers in the area.