Stretching: The Necessary Evil

Here I am, on the next to last track of my body pump class, trying to decide whether or not I’m going to stay for the cool down. I don’t normally stay because I go to the class during my lunch time and I’ve already been gone for a really long time. But this time, I feel inclined to stay. Perhaps because I haven’t been to the gym in a really long time and I know my muscles are going to be sore. Or maybe it’s because I’m just not quite ready to get back to work yet. Whatever the reason, I decide to stay for the cool down/stretch track. And I must say it felt AMAZING!!

I’ve never really been one to stretch, at least not for more than about five minutes or so, but after realizing how good I felt after stretching post-workout I have changed my tune.

There are many benefits to stretching, especially when done on a daily basis. After reading several articles on those benefits, I’ve narrowed it down to my top five:

  1. Speeds recovery after exercise-Seeing as how I don’t make it to the gym as often as I’d like to these days, I find myself to be more sore after workouts than I used to. Sore muscles keep me out of the gym even longer so it’s just that much harder for me to establish a routine. If stretching will help me recover faster then I’m all for it.
  2. Reduces likelihood of an injury-The last thing I want is to injure an important muscle during a workout and be out of commission for weeks/months while the muscle heals.
  3. Improves flexibility-Who couldn’t use a little more flexibility in their lives? We’re all getting older and with that, comes decreased flexibility. Sure, tying our shoes and reaching for items in cabinets may be a piece of cake now, but will those everyday tasks still be as easy in 10 or 15 years?
  4. Improves range of motion-This pretty much goes hand in hand with improved flexibility. Increased range of motion allows you more mobility and agility, both critical as we get older.
  5. Pain relief-It’s amazing how much better we can feel once we stretch our body out head to toe. Lower back pain especially can be relieved by daily stretches. Greater flexibility and range of motion in the hamstrings can help reduce stress on the spine.

Find a reason to stretch. And set a goal to do it daily.

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