Why Should You Stretch?

Many people know they should stretch—but they don’t know exactly why. Let’s go over some reasons why it’s a great practice.  

First and foremost, stretching improves flexibility—the ability of a joint to move through a full range of motion without pain. Short, tight muscles restrict the movement of joints, causing pain, stiffness, and the inability to do the activities you want to do with ease.

Think about the overhead squat (here’s an example). Tight muscles around the ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, and wrists can limit joint movement and throw the whole system out of whack. This is why the OHS can be such a struggle: it reveals a lack of mobility in so many areas! 

Mobility issues aren’t just seen in the gym, though. They primarily affect your everyday life. For example, if very tight muscles prevent you from squatting well, you might ALSO struggle to stand up if you sit in a low chair. But if increased flexibility allows you to train the full range of motion, you’ll have more strength to stand up from a low chair.

In other cases, a lack of flexibility can prevent you from using your strength effectively. The reason you throw your back out when moving heavy boxes, for example, may not be because you lack strength. It’s more likely because your mobility won’t allow you to USE the strength you have!

You can imagine how many situations are affected by flexibility, or lack of it. Any situation where you are required to move quickly, like breaking a fall when you trip, will put your mobility to the test. 

Stretching also releases tension physically and mentally. Yoga is thousands of years old and there’s a reason it is so popular these days: it relieves stress! Whether you do a yoga routine or just some standard stretching, we promise you’ll notice a difference. Your body will be more relaxed and your mind will be calmer. 

A coach can help you figure out a perfect routine for you and your goals. But if you want a quick, general primer, here it is:

  • Warm-up with some light movement before stretching (jumping jacks, high knees, etc).
  • Hold stretches for about 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Breathe naturally as you stretch.
  • Avoid pain. Some tension is normal as you work the muscles, but stretching shouldn’t hurt.
  • Focus on the large muscles around the major joints: the ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders.
  • Stretch regularly. Even 5 to 10 minutes a day can make a difference.
  • Keep stretching to improve or maintain range of motion. If you stop stretching, your range of motion might decrease.

Recovery technology and supplements are all the rage these days, but don’t neglect one of the most basic ways to feel good! Give regular stretching a try for a week and see how you feel. 

If you want to go deeper into improving your mobility (and strength and cardio, too), talk to a coach at Prowess!

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