Flexibility, which is defined as a joint's ability to move freely in every direction through a full range of motion, is one of the key components of fitness. As we age, our bodies naturally become less flexible and more prone to injury. With flexibility training, however, we can keep our bodies more limber and youthful. Here are ACE's top 10 reasons why everyone should take the time to stretch.
ACE'S TOP 10 REASONS TO STRETCH
- PREPARE THE BODY FOR THE STRESS OF EXERCISE
Stretching prior to any type of exercise helps warm the muscles and gets them ready for the more intense exercise to follow.
- IMPROVE MECHANICAL EFFICIENCY AND OVERALL FUNCTIONAL PERFORMANCE
A well-stretched muscle moves through a full range of motion with less effort. Therefore, stretching prior to physical activity will help you conserve energy and thereby improve performance.
- DECREASE MUSCLE STIFFNESS AND INCREASE RANGE OF MOTION
Because our muscles get cold and tight from hours of sitting or standing at our jobs, periodic stretching will keep the blood flowing and allow the muscles to move through a full range of motion.
- LOWER YOUR RISK OF INJURY
Like a rubber band, a muscle is more flexible when it is warm and stretched, and it is less likely to tear or overstretch from an abrupt movement.
- PROMOTE CIRCULATION
Stretching increases the blood supply to the muscles and joints, which keeps the muscles supple and healthy.
- HELP RELIEVE POST-EXERCISE ACHES AND PAINS
After a workout, stretching the muscles you just worked will keep them from immediately shortening and tightening as they cool down.
- IMPROVE POSTURE
Do you find your shoulders rolling toward the desk by the end of the day? Stretching your back and shoulders will help keep you from slouching and keep your shoulders back for better posture.
- DECREASE THE RISK OF LOW-BACK PAIN
Maintaining good posture and stretching your hip flexors and hamstrings will help keep the strain off your lower back.
- HELP REDUCE OR MANAGE STRESS
Tight muscles hold stress. Taking the time to focus on relaxing each muscle as you stretch will reduce the feelings of anxiety.
- REDUCE MUSCULAR TENSION AND ENHANCE MUSCULAR RELAXATION
Not only is the act of stretching soothing, it will cause your body to continue relaxing even after you are finished.