Why We Stretch
By Andrew Myers
Firstly, there are numerous benefits involved in taking time to stretch every day. This blog will go over those benefits in depth so you can better understand how important it really is. Let’s begin with the definition itself…. “Stretching is a form of physical exercise in which a specific muscle or tendon is deliberately elongated in order to improve the muscle's felt elasticity.” As a direct result of elongating certain muscle groups on a regular basis the following things start to happen.
Improved Range of motion (flexibility) - Stretching has been known to drastically improve a person’s muscular range of motion. This is important for anyone, BUT it is especially important to people who are very active and that put their bodies through a lot of physical stress. Improvement in someone’s range of motion is also linked to performance during exercise. The better your bodies range of motion is through your movements, the more effective that exercise becomes when it comes to stimulating muscle.
Reduces the risk of injury- Stretching is known to not only increase range of motion, but it is also known to increase blood flow to the muscles. Think of each muscle group as an elastic, if an elastic is stiff and colder in temperature, it is much more likely to snap sooner than an elastic that is warmer and more flexible. The same is true for your muscles. This is why stretching before and after training or the most crucial times to do so.
Increases muscular control- Stretching also helps you understand the bodies different muscle groups and how they should feel when becoming elongated. This leads us to establishing a mind-muscle connection. The mind –muscle connection is one of the most important aspects of training your own body. Stretching helps us understand what different kind of movements we can perform that target individual muscles.
Aid in Recovery- Exercising is essentially putting your body through physical trauma. That trauma is directed muscularly. We’ve already gone over how stretching increases a person’s blood flow in the muscles that are targeted. That blood flow is your body’s response to help repair broken down muscle tissue. Stretching can help reduce soreness that your body experiences either on a daily basis, or after being physically active.
Stretching is something many people forget, or don’t make time for in their routines. People also avoid stretching because it can be very uncomfortable if the person is tight and is not relaxed. The bottom line is stretching is performing maintenance on your body. You need to take the time to maintain your own bodies to ensure you are running the best you possibly can. I’ve personally started looking at stretching in this way and it has helped me push myself to do it consistently.