The Importance of Stretching
By Sara Butler
When most people think of physical fitness, their minds automatically go to strength training or aerobic fitness. One of the most overlooked areas of fitness is flexibility, which is why stretching is such an important thing for everyone to do. Here’s what you need to know about the importance of stretching in your fitness routine!
Why Flexibility Matters
You need flexibility in order for your joints to retain their full range of motion. It also helps to keep muscles strong, healthy, and flexible. Without this flexibility, the muscles become tight, weakening them when they’re unable to extend as they should. This puts you at risk for injuries such as strains, muscle damage, and joint pain.
A regular stretching routine helps to keep your muscles in shape, so they can do the work they were made to do! Good flexibility extends to your balance as well, since healthy muscles can help you to avoid future falls.
Where You Should Start
You have a lot of muscles in your body -- don’t get overwhelmed! The goal isn’t to stretch each one. The most critical areas that impact your mobility and health are your hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, and quadriceps in the lower body. In the upper half of your body, you should focus on the neck, lower back, and shoulders. Try to start a daily stretching program to target these areas.
Stretching is a pretty straightforward thing, but there are few things you should keep in mind when you do it:
- Warm up – Just as with any other physical activity, warm muscles will perform betterr; take a short walk, do some jumping jacks, or jog in place before you get started
- Don’t bounce – You’re not doing yourself any favors if you bounce or bob when stretching, which may actually result in an injury; your stretches should be controlled and slow
- It’s OK to be uncomfortable – Stretches should never hurt but it is fine if they’re uncomfortable
- Stretch both sides – Don’t stick to just one side but stretch both sides of your body equally; try to do the same muscles groups for the same amount of time.
If you’re stretching your muscles and feel a sudden pain, stop! You don’t want to force anything. If the pain continues, then come into The Joint for an evaluation!
To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Hoboken, N.J.