Stretching and flexibility is an essential component of any physical fitness plan, but it’s also crucial for daily life. Stretching shouldn’t be used only by elite athletes. Stretching should be something we all do on a daily, regular basis and should be part of your routine. You wouldn’t expect to see an athlete come right off the bench and begin playing without doing some stretching or warm-up. The same goes for you on a typical day.
As we age, stretching becomes even more vital as we lose valuable flexibility and range of motion. This loss of flexibility can lead to unexpected injuries. The mere definition of flexibility explains it all.
Flexibility is the quality of bending easily without breaking.
That sentence in and of itself describes an aging person’s hopes and dreams. To live each day bending and moving smoothly without breaking.
As someone who recently tore their calf muscle while playing frisbee at a local vineyard, I can attest to this definition and statement. I know what you’re thinking, there was alcohol involved, so it makes sense. This injury was not an ARI or alcohol-related injury. It was merely a freak accident due to my advanced age and sudden movement. I am someone who works out every day, so I took this injury hard. How could this happen to someone like me? I can explain it with one word, stretching.
Why are stretching and flexibility so necessary?
The question of why stretching and flexibility are necessary is not an easy one to answer, as there are many reasons. The simple answer is obvious. Everyone wants to move freely, but the importance of stretching and flexibility is also critical. Critical for your overall function in life as well as your health and fitness level.
Tight muscles are bad!
Lack of stretching can lead to tight muscles, aches and pains, poor posture, and a slew of other ailments. Performing the simplest tasks, such as getting out of bed, can become troublesome when your muscles are sore and tight. A simple morning stretching routine can make all the difference for your flexibility.
A person who does not do any form of stretching, thus limiting flexibility, is prone to having poor balance. This poor balance becomes more dangerous as you age when a simple fall can shatter bones, including hips, knees, and shoulders. It’s not just the elderly who should worry about poor balance due to lousy flexibility. Anyone participating in a sport at all levels should be concerned as well. Balance plays a significant role in injury prevention.
Stretching helps increase blood flow
There are two types of stretching, dynamic and static. Static stretches are the most common form of stretches. These stretching exercises are the kind you hold in place for a certain period of time. They involve minimal movement. Think of someone sitting on the ground, reaching for their foot or someone bending over to touch their toes. These are static stretches.
Dynamic stretches, on the other hand, involve movement to elongate your muscles. Because dynamic stretching involves movement, it will increase circulation in the body, therefore, increasing energy levels as well. Examples of dynamic stretching include lunges, bodyweight squats, shoulder circles, etc.
When is the best time for stretching
Ideally, the best time for stretching to increase flexibility and range of motion is always after your workout or when your body is warm. Before exercising is when those dynamic stretches will benefit you the most. Dynamic stretches will help warm up your body and get the blood flowing to your muscles.
SIX MORNING STRETCHING EXERCISES
Tips for proper stretching
We’ve all heard the basics when it comes to stretching. Don’t bounce when you’re stretching, and you have to stretch before you workout, you have to hold every stretch until it hurts.
- Hold each stretch for 10-20 seconds. Stretch to the point where you start to feel discomfort and DO NOT go any further. Think of pulling a rubber band to its limit without breaking it.
- Stretch different parts of your body, not just one area.
- Make sure to repeat each “set” of stretching exercises 2-3 times.
- Do not bounce. Come up or out of each stretch slowly.
- Breathe when stretching. Do not hold your breath for any reason.
- If you feel any pain whatsoever STOP.
- Mix up your routine by adding new stretches or try Yoga.
- Consult a physician before starting any form of exercise routine.
THE 21 BEST STRETCHING EXERCISES FOR BETTER FLEXIBILITY
Remember that stretching is not just for elite athletes. Everyone should be performing some stretching program daily to improve flexibility and range of motion. It doesn’t take long to add this beneficial and healthy routine to your schedule.
KEEP YOUR MEMORY SHARP AS WELL
Do you perform stretching exercises? What are some of your favorite stretches, and why? Let us know below in the comment section.
Stretching is so important at any age! I can feel it every time I miss or skip stretching. I get up out of my office chair with sound effects! You know when you start walking and you sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies on crack? Yeah, that’s when I know it is time to stop and stretch before I do something stupid.
Ever since my injury I have seen a major change due to constant and daily stretching before workouts and starting my day. Yoga is next for me.
I remember my father stretching when I was a little kid. He would say I need to stretch to keep up with you. Now that he is long gone and I am in my late 30s I totally understand. Having poor balance dude to not stretching is something I do not want to deal with when I get much older. Thank you for the reminder, Scott.
As someone who tore their calf muscle 3 months ago, I can tell you how important it is to stretch!
I’m glad I usually stretch in the morning but I didn’t know how important it was and the consequences if I don’t stretch.
I will check your other posts and try out new stretching exercises.
Please check out the other posts and exercises and come back regularly.
Now I want to get up and stretch! It is one of those things that always makes me feel better!! Its so important for our bodies to stretch and I try to keep it in my daily routines.
Thanks for the comment, Kristin. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes it’s better than nothing.
yes, stretching! I need to do more of this. I used to have a great routine but I’ve fallen off the bandwagon. I’m also constantly trying to convince my hubby to stretch but he doesn’t think it’s “manly” to stretch (but then he complains after doing a long walk and being sore the next day). I should share this blog post with him!
Tell your husband I never thought it was manly either but extremely necessary. I have an injury to prove it. 🙂
I’m not the most physically active person but reading this has motivated me (and scared me a bit too!) into making sure I’m able to maintain my flexibility. I do try to put in some yoga regularly in my schedule but more often than not end up skipping it – may be simple stretches on those days would be better than nothing. I’m gonna keep this post saved!
Smita; Don’t ever skip time for yourself to workout, relax or do something for you. Even if it’s just 30 minutes.
My muscles are so tight after working at my computer for long hours this week. I’ll definitely take your advice on board and get started with a regular stretching routine. Thanks for sharing this.
Kelly, I work at my computer all day as well and the best thing to do is get up every now and then and do some quick stretches. For me, my neck really hurts after a day at the computer. Regular breaks are a big help.
Excellent information! It’s important to stretch and to exercise. As you mentioned, it helps with blood circulation and tight muscles.
And a slew of other things. Thanks for the comment.
Oh yes..I need stretching every day, although I forgot it, but sometimes, it’s a voluntary action when my muscles became so stiff especially from sitting too long working on my laptop.
I could not agree with this more and literally just the other day was having this exact same conversation x
wow! I just realized I don’t stretch enough! will implement your tips asap! Thank you so much for sharing! it was kinda like a wake-up call for me!
Oh my gosh, stretching is so necessary! Especially as you get older! When you are young, you always hear that you need to stretch if you are into any type of althletics. But you tend to put it off because it takes so much extra time. Then you hit middle age and you discover that EVERYTHING hurts! Pretty soon you want to stretch because you feel so much better. Good post!
Stretching is so important. I always make sure to stretch before and after a workout. Even just getting out of bed in the morning, i stretch and it helps wake me up.
I have to stretch before I get out of bed.
I couldn’t agree more: strength alone as well as flexibility alone doesn’t work. It is not healthy enough. very nice insight Scott, always wise
Idk why but I would never stretch after or before working out. One day I was working out with someone and I did it and it was the BEST thing ever. I never skip a stretch now!
Yes, stretching is so important especially now that I am over 30 my body just functions differently! When I was younger I didn’t stretch at all. Nowadays I might go to the gym and just get a stretch in lol
I enjoy how progressive stretching is. When we were doing stretches for kickboxing after a few months I was able to do a split. The body is like a rubberband in certain way and if you stop you go back to how you were before
Stretching is so helpful! I sit on the computer a lot at work and for personal reasons so my back tends to hurt a bit from time to time and stretching helps me out quite a bit and it really helps with my neck.