Runners and those who are active participants in sport can tell you, stretching is the most important thing you can do before an exercise. Without stretching, muscles can become stiff which can lead to tearing, adhesions, and cramping. Hydration and stretching go hand in hand as basics of exercising. Even if you are not active, stretching can be beneficial for all ages to help decrease various injuries and increase blood flow and flexibility throughout your body.
Stretching is not too time consuming. Lasting benefits can be gained by taking as little as ten minutes a day for stretching. Stretching helps improve posture, improve circulation throughout the entire body, relieve stress, enhance coordination, increase flexibility, prevent disabilities such as carpal tunnel, and warm up the body. However just like with any exercise routine, it is always best to do it correctly to avoid making damaging mistakes.
Make sure to always stretch in a balanced routine so that the muscles on both sides of your body get stretched evenly. You don’t want to stretch one side more than the other so if you can, try to time yourself stretching. Go slow, and do proper breathing techniques to avoid stress and promote a more relaxing stretch. Do not ever hold your breath while stretching!
While it is always recommended to stretch before you exercise, it is also important to stretch after you exercise as well. Give your muscles a relaxing and proper stretch after activity to ensure muscles won’t be strained. Try to take a few minutes in the morning after waking up to do a five to ten minute stretch routine to warm up your muscles and give you energy for the day. This is also recommended if you wake up with stiff muscles or with cramping in the legs.
Last, but not least, always make sure not to stretch to the point of discomfort. Stretching should never be painful or uncomfortable and you don’t want to pull a muscle and then have to spend time recuperating from this injury.