Stretching is an essential, yet often neglected health-related component of the fitness regime. It is often brushed aside because compared to weight lifting or squatting, the results are not as conspicuous. But even though it is not the most exciting part of a training routine, it is as essential and useful as other components like cardio or strength workout.
Adding some stretching routine in your training will help you improve your overall mobility and flexibility. It also makes your workout exercises more efficient and safe.
Luckily, stretching only takes a little time on your workout schedule. But keep this in mind, while stretching is not glamorous or as hardcore as other training components, it will enable you to do more exercise routines—and do them correctly.
Top 7 Reasons Why You Should Stretch
If you are not convinced with the many advantages of stretching, be sure to read the list below. We compiled and listed all science-based benefits of stretching—so that you can become more aware and able to move through the gym more confidently.
1. Stretching promotes blood circulation
Stretching helps promote the circulation of blood in various parts of the body, including the muscles and joints. If there is increased blood circulation in these areas, there will be more nutrients and oxygen that can be transported and distributed in the body. Proper oxygenation means you can last longer in training or workouts.
2. It minimizes pain and post-exercise aches
After a hard workout, stretching can help relieve pains and post-exercise aches all over the body. It loosens the tight muscles and lessens the shortening effect, which is the most common cause of post-workout pain. Studies also show that regular stretching can reduce the severity and frequency of muscle cramps.
3. Stretching prepares the muscles
A flexible joint and muscles due to less muscle tightness can create more energy-efficient movements during exercise. If you stretch before doing other types of exercise, less energy is placed towards the muscles and joints. Stretching also helps ensure that you have more energy so you can exercise longer. Regular stretching also helps the muscles on each side of a joint maintain an equal degree of pull. This will enable the joint to move freely and efficiently in different directions, resulting in optimal movement and less stress on the body.
4. You can increase your flexibility with stretching
In addition to promoting the circulation of blood, stretching also helps improve flexibility. How? Most fitness enthusiasts say that it must have something to do with the lengthening and pliability of the muscles. However, there’s still few evidence related to this hypothesis, and the professional community needs to conduct more scientific studies.
5. It improves posture
Stretching, especially if focused on the muscles of the torso, including the shoulders, chest, and lower back aids in strengthening the back. In the long run, continuous back stretching results in better alignment and proper posture.
6. Stretching increases the range of motion
Stretching reduces passive stiffness and increases the range of movement. This happens because the muscles learn and adapt to the movements during training. Several studies say that it may be due to a process called proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). PNF stretching uses a shortening contraction of the opposing muscles, which constitutes to the short-term changes in ROM.
7. It reduces the risk of injury
Although the scientific proofs are far from definitive, there are a lot of promising findings of the effects of pre- and post-workout stretching in reducing the risk for injury. If used as a warm-up, it can help increase the body’s core temperature and functionality, thereby preparing the body for movements.
About the Authors:
Mike Zhang is the founder of the MZF Group. He graduated from the University of Toronto on the dean's list with a Masters Degree in science. Mike was a two time National Muay Thai Champion, and a strength and conditioning coach to several learned athletes. He has over 14 years of experience as a Muay Thai Coach.
Marijune Tiamzon, RN, MHPNP
With nearly 5 years of experience in the medical field, Marijune holds a registered nurse license and a certificate as a mental health nurse practitioner. She is an adventurous young professional, and her hobbies include diving, windsurfing, and saber fencing.
As an avid writer, she is most passionate about sharing acquired knowledge in the medical field and how to apply it to improve the quality of life of our readers.