Maybe you rush out of that HIIT class right after the last intense interval. Who has time for the cool down stretch?
Maybe you are just the impatient type, who would rather do kickboxing than yoga. Work up a sweat and stay fit, right?
Actually, stretching is an important part of any workout. There are many benefits of being flexible, and stretching helps maintain those benefits throughout your life.
Whether you include stretching in your daily routine, or perform it when you are unable to do other kinds of exercise due to schedule, injury or other impediments, make sure you include stretching in your overall health regimen to help work on your flexibility.
Here are ten reasons why you need to stay flexible.
10 Amazing Reasons to Work on Your Flexibility
#1 Better Range of Motion
Daily stretching helps maintain range of motion. If you have ever stopped stretching for a period of time, because you were pregnant or postnatal for example, you may be amazed how quickly your range can disappear.
Range of motion is not just important for a good golf swing or a fast breaststroke. You need it to reach stuff on the top of a closet or to catch a toddler running toward danger. Functional fitness means you will be adept at all the motions your body may demand, and flexibility is part of functional fitness.
#2 Prevents Injury
If you have ever had to make a sudden move and then felt a shooting pain, you probably wrenched something because you were not flexible enough.
Stretching brings blood to your muscles, warming them up and lubricating the joints and tendons. That way they are ready for sudden bursts of energy and speed.
#3 Helps Performance
Stretching before a race may help you go faster. Stretching before lifting weights may help you lift more.
Stretching before any kind of physical activity prepares your body, warms it up and psychs your mind for the challenge too.
#4 Protects Against Soreness
When you warm up your body before vigorous activity, you are less likely to feel soreness in your muscles the next day. It’s also important to stretch after exercise when your muscles are warm and more flexible.
You will find stretching after a cardio workout will enable you to reach further and extend your limbs more. Long lean limbs make an attractive look. Think of a ballerina body!
By sending blood to the muscles and stimulating the synovial fluid in the joints, you get yourself ready for the big push. You are also taking precautions from being couch-bound in pain afterward.
#5 Calms Your Mind
Whether you are taking a yoga class in a studio or at home on an app, you must set aside part of your practice for relaxation. Movement is not the only necessary component to holistic fitness and wellness.
By taking long, slow, and sustained stretches, you fall into deep breathing which serves to calm your racing mind. You are taking precious time to feel your body, understand where it is hurting, and where you need to rest.
A good stretch and savasana provide the healing space that every hardworking body and mind needs.
#6 Reduces Stress
By calming your mind and body through gentle flexibility training, you help reduce the signs of physical stress. Stretching has been known to help lower blood pressure and heart rate.
When you’re anxious, your body tenses up, becoming less limber and more prone to aches and pains. How often have you had a tight neck or sore shoulder and an achy back during periods of stress? We’ve all been there, done that, and daily stretching can help reduce some of that built up tension.
Some good deep stretches will help loosen those muscles and let go of the tensions that are causing physical and mental pain.
#7 Helps Posture
When you lose flexibility, you find your muscles shortening. For example, if you are constantly hunched over a computer, your back and shoulder muscles get hunched and short, causing soreness and pain.
By doing flexibility exercises, you can lengthen the muscles that get bunched up by long hours at a desk or in a car.
#8 Improves Your Sex Life
Exercise improving your libido…say what? Yep, all exercise helps your sex life, by boosting endorphins and self-confidence. Stretching and flexibility exercises help by letting you become more aware of your body.
Increasing blood and oxygen flow is a great intimacy aid. When your energy and stamina are high, you are sure to have more fun in bed.
The modern world takes us away from the sensual, and letting yourself feel good again can arouse the libido. By letting go of tension and pain and embracing the physical, you may find yourself wanting to find pleasure with your partner too!
#9 Helps with Back Pain
Back pain is one of the most pervasive chronic issues plaguing people in modern society. Our sedentary lifestyle is likely one factor.
Flexibility training through Pilates, yoga and other techniques improves posture and strengthens the core muscles. By strengthening your core, you support the spine and help protect it from damage and injury.
Many core exercises will help with back pain, such as planks and spinal twists. Make sure you have an instructor who can help you with adjustments if your pain inhibits certain movements.
#10 Alleviates Headaches
Headaches may happen when you are dehydrated, ill, or stressed out. As discussed above, stretching and flexibility training can help with those issues.
If you incorporate some long slow and sustained stretches into your routine, you will feel the release of tension that leads to headaches.
Some stretches and yoga postures are said to improve immunity (like spinal twists.) Downward facing dog increases circulation in the body because your head is lower than your heart.
Promoting good circulation can help immune cells flow freely so they can more effectively fight off infection. The blood flow to your head can also provide welcome relief.
The Bottom Line
There are many benefits of being flexible, which will affect your physical, personal and spiritual well being. Why not take a few minutes out of your day to experience all the peace and relief that effective flexibility will give you? Your body will thank you for it.
For a great way to achieve fitness anywhere, even in the comfort of your own home, check out our app where we offer classes taught by world-class celebrity trainers and the best part? Our classes are always open, so you can press play when you have spare time in your busy day.