Since childhood, you’ve probably heard people telling you that stretching is an important part of exercise. If you ever asked them why, though, those people probably didn’t say much more than, “You’ll get hurt if you don’t.” While that’s true, we thought we might shed a little bit more light on the subject with a few very compelling reasons to stretch before and after you work out.
Stay Young and Supple
First of all, have you ever looked at how easily flexible kids are? Do you remember, when you were younger, how you could just sit in any position, reach anything, and even do a split if you wanted? As we get older, our bodies become stiffer and tighter, but if you stretch and maintain your flexibility, you’ll continue to move like a young woman, and people will think you’re a lot younger than you are. Plus, you’ll enjoy the increased range of motion that your flexibility gives you, and who doesn’t want to keep looking young and supple, right?
Decreased Risk of Injury
Whether you’re a runner, you take dance classes, or you’ve gotten into weightlifting and high-intensity workouts like CrossFit, tight muscles are bad news. When your muscles are too tight, they’re more likely to strain or tear, which can lead to a lot of downtime on the couch while you recover. Stretching improves your muscles’ flexibility and loosens them up so that you avoid those injuries.
Stretching Is Good for Your Mind
In addition to being good for your body, a few minutes of stretching a day can be incredibly good for your mind, as well. Stretching is a calming activity that lets you focus on your breathing while you forget about the rest of the world for a while.
Dynamic vs. Static Stretching
Now that you have a little bit better idea of why stretching is important, we should tell you that you really shouldn’t do long, static stretches before you work out. Stretching cold muscles like this can actually lead to injury. Instead, do short, dynamic stretches before you work out. Then, when you finish your workout and your muscles are warm, do those long, static stretches. The combination will keep you looking and feeling younger and more limber for years to come.
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