Though often overlooked, stretching is one of the most important components of exercise. Most of us dread taking the five or 10 minutes before and after our workouts to stretch our muscles, but it’s just as important as cardiovascular exercise and weight training.

There are many benefits to stretching. Stretching increases flexibility. This is one of the most commonly known reasons for stretching. Through stretching, we lengthen our muscles and increase flexibility. This makes them more able to handle the stress of everyday life and working out. If one doesn’t, muscles become stiff and tight. This makes stretching increasingly important with age, since our muscles generally tighten and stiffen naturally. Stretching will help prevent many of the injuries and dangers that come with the aging of our muscles.

Stretching improves circulation. By stretching, you increase the blood flow to your muscles. This improves their function by ridding them of toxins and giving them more nourishment. It is extremely important to warm your muscles up before stretching in order to get the blood flow to your muscles. Improved circulation is crucial for muscle recovery and growth.

Stretching increases your range of motion. In return, this will improve your weight and cardiovascular training in the gym because it allows your muscles to adapt to your exercise in a healthier way.

There are many different ways to stretch your muscles. The most common type of stretching is called “static stretching.”

This is when you hold one stretch for a period of 30 to 60 seconds. This can also be varied by having someone else assist you in your static stretch, which is referred to as passive stretching. They are the same type of stretch – the only difference is that you have assistance in passive stretching by a person, band or machine. This is the most beneficial way to stretch with the least chance for injury. When stretching your muscles, it’s crucial to remember to keep a slow pace.

In order to get a full stretch, it’s important to hold the stretch without bouncing since jerking movements and bouncing increase the chance for injury. Incorporating stretching into your routine will allow your muscles to work to their full potential in exercise and to recover faster!

It is easy to forget the importance of stretching when you’re in a rush to get in and out of the gym; however, by not stretching, you can slow your progress and put yourself at more risk for injury. Making it a regular part of your routine will improve your muscles’ overall health, allowing you to enjoy exercise even more!