My flexibility is absolutely embarrassing (especially when going to Yoga class). So I’ve decided to spend a few minutes every morning stretching to increase my flexibility. Many people do not realize the importance and benefits of spending time stretching; not only before working out and but after as well. I found the following article from Livestrong.com to explain:
Importance of Stretching Before Exercises
Many active individuals believe stretching is not an important part of any exercise program and it can be skipped all together. However this is not true — stretching can improve your flexibility, reduce risk of injury and improve your overall quality of life. By adding stretches that focus on all major muscle groups before you exercise, you will get more out of your workout and decrease muscular soreness afterward.
Stretching increases your flexibility. Increased flexibility can improve your physical performance during exercise and everyday life while reducing your risk of injuries by increasing the range of motion in your joints. As you age, your flexibility decreases, thus making your body stiffer and less mobile. By incorporating stretching into your routine you can counteract this process and maintain your current flexibility.
Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles, which is important for exercise because it increases mobility and prevents your muscles from tiring too soon. Stretching can be beneficial throughout the day. For example, if your neck muscles are tight at work you can gently stretch them to release tension and prevent headaches. If you are experiencing soreness from a previous workout, stretching before your next workout can alleviate some of the muscular stiffness.
When you incorporate stretching into your exercise routine it is important to follow certain guidelines while stretching to avoid any onset of injury. Many believe stretching is considered a warmup; consequently stretching cold muscles can make you prone to injury. You should warm up with light activity — walking or jogging — before performing your stretches. According to MayoClinic.com, avoid any bouncing-type movements; these can cause small tears in your muscles. When stretching, you should hold the stretch for 30 seconds before releasing. It is important to stretch both sides of your body. For example, if you stretch your right quadriceps, you should also stretch your left quadriceps.
Stretching after your workout is equally as important as stretching before. Since it increases blood flow to your muscles, stretching afterward can lessen muscular soreness and aid in muscle recovery. If you already have an injury stretching it may not be best because it can cause more strain and prolong the injury. MayoClinic.com states stretching may not prevent all injuries, for an example you can still suffer from an overuse injury. You should consult with your physician about the best stretches for you if you have any health concerns.