How often do you think about your flexibility? Do you have a consistent stretching routine? If not, devote more time to your body’s flexibility. Flexibility and mobility are as essential to your body’s health as strength.
Stretching is the one thing most of us skip as we run out of time, energy or motivation. People don’t always recognize the necessity of stretching or realize its benefits immediately so it is easy to spend your time on other endeavors. After all, time is a scarce resource and if you do not see immediate results, you may lose interest. When you lift, you get stronger. When you improve your diet or increase your cardio, you often get leaner. But when you stretch once, you will not notice a difference. Likewise, nothing may happen for a while if you don’t stretch. The lack of immediate gratification and the lack of instant ramifications make our motivation to maintain a daily stretching routine difficult. But if you want to stay pain and injury free, start stretching.
Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. We need that flexibility to maintain a proper range of motion in the joints. Without stretching, the muscles shorten and become tight. Sitting all day reinforces the tightness.
For example, sitting in a chair all day results in tight hamstrings. Tight hamstrings can make it harder to extend your leg or straighten your knee all the way, which impedes walking and ultimately affects the spine. Similarly, sitting shuts down the nerves that activate your glutes. The glute muscle begins to break down leading the other muscles and joints in your body to become over-stressed. This can result in pain in your hips, knees and lower back.
When tight muscles are suddenly called on for a vigorous activity that stretches them, such as running or cycling, they may become damaged. The most effective way to combat these problems is to get up and stretch. Whether you work out or not, stretching can reduce future injury and pain. Regular stretching keeps muscles long, lean, and flexible, and this means that exertion won't put too much force on the muscle itself. Stretching doesn't just help you get the most out of your workouts and prevent injuries; it can actually help you feel better as you age. Still not convinced? Below are ten benefits of stretching:
· Promoting the Repair of Muscles while Decreasing Stress
· Reduce Tightness & Muscular Pain
· Improve Posture
· Increase Range of Motion in Joints
· Improves Muscular Function & Balance
· Better Balance to Avoid Falls
· Injury Prevention
· Enhance Performance
· Improve Blood Flow & Circulation
· Minimize Wear & Tear on the Joints
· It Feels Good & Aides in Giving us Pain-Free Movement
Stretching once a day won't miraculously give you perfect flexibility. You'll need to do it over time and remain committed to the process. If you don’t know where to start, consider trying Pilates. Pilates exercises and classes are an exceptional tool to improve flexibility and mobility. In Pilates, we work on flexibility and strength simultaneously. We work through active and static stretching to increase the range of motion in your joints and flexibility of your muscles. Furthermore, Pilates can transform your health without taking a toll on your body. You will stretch your muscles in a strong, but gentle way.