When it comes to exercise, we often see people stretching before and after working out or partaking in physical activity. While it may seem like just a habit or way to prepare, stretching before you exercise actually presents numerous benefits. Here are 5 benefits of stretching before you exercise to consider before your next workout.
- Helps to warm up the muscles and improves range of motion. If you jump right into exercise, the muscles are colder and haven’t had time to prepare. This can leave you feeling stiff at first, and unable to achieve your best range of motion while running, lifting weights or playing a sport. When your range of motion is improved through stretching in advance, you are able to enhance your overall balance and agility. Better balance means you are less likely to fall or hurt yourself while exercising.
- Stretching before working out can help to make exercise easier and more effective by improving overall flexibility. True fitness involves a careful balance between strength and flexibility. If you are all muscle, you are tight, and your ability to move in dynamic ways dimities over time. If you are only flexible and have little strength, you risk damaging ligaments and joints, plus your muscles will not be able to regain elasticity if they are too stretched out. Stretching before working out ensures that you spend time focusing on your flexibility before your cardio or strength training for a well-rounded exercise regimen and a fit, healthy body.
- Helps to prevent exercise injuries. Working out on cold muscles can results in injuries such as tears or sprains. When your muscles have not warmed up, the elasticity is reduced, and simple movements can cause you to pull a muscles or do even worse damage. In addition, muscles support your joints such as the knees. Stiff, inflexible muscles are less effective at protecting these joints meaning you could more easily tear a muscle like your MCL or twist your ankle during exercise.
- Increases blood circulation throughout the body. The better your circulation, the more nutrients and oxygen your heart is able to pump to all areas of your body. When your body is well circulated, muscles receive what they need to keep working and to reach their full potential during a workout. Poor circulation can result in tired, fatigued muscles as well as less overall energy. Better circulation will also reduce soreness after exercise meaning it will be easier to do your next workout, and your day to day life will be much more comfortable.
- Finally, stretching helps to fight stress! It is also exercise, and so it helps to release more endorphins in the body, improving your mood and outlook on life. It will relieve tension by allowing muscles to relax and calm especially in stress holding areas like the shoulders, neck and lower back. You will be energized and revitalize when you stretch before exercising.
Stretching in general, and specifically before exercising, can provide your mind, body, and fitness levels with so many benefits. You can help to improve range of motion, reduce injuries, gain better range of motion, increase circulation, and fight stress all at once!