Stretching, It Does a Body Good!
Some of the current studies on stretching show that it does not have any effect on onset muscle soreness, however there are still plenty of benefits to stretching regularly as part of your fitness regiment. Ever wonder why we put out so many stretching tutorials? I’m about to tell you why. Let’s start with range of motion. As we get older, or as we increase our physical output in the gym, muscles begin to tighten or lose their “length-tension relationships.” What this means, is that your muscles fibers begin to shorten under tension and come out of alignment. Multiple studies show that even one 10min. stretching session will exponentially increase the range of motion of the affected area. So, for anyone with a regular fitness regimen, or anyone getting older (which means everyone), can only benefit from stretching to increase or maintain range of motion.
Why do you need range of motion? For proper movement and injury prevention, of course! Without maintaining muscle, length-tension relationships, you limit the bodies ability to move properly and therefore increase the risk for injury. Proper movement is hard enough as it is, requiring stabilization strength that most of us don’t have do to sedentary working environments. Why would you then want to make it harder on yourself by not taking the time to do it after working out, when the whole point of working out is to better prepare yourself for everyday life? It’s a simple fault many of us make.
Speaking of sedentary working environments, do you ever experience pain after days of doing either extremely physical manual labor or the opposite, of extremely sedentary office work? Well, that’s because your muscles are tightening and creating tension on more than just other muscles. Muscles are what move the body, by transferring energy to ligaments and bones. If you don’t take care of them, musculo-skeletal pain, primarily in the back and major flex joints (hips and shoulders), is sure to develop. This pain, over time, can be alleviated and prevented by regular stretching as part of your fitness regimen.
In conclusion, regular stretching increases range of motion, prevents injury, increases athleticism and alleviates pain. Why is it still such an issue then? Time. You don’t need some fancy “stretching video tutorial” account or an hour to do yoga everyday to keep a good mobility practice. Take 10-20min, either right after you wake up, before the kids are awake, or right before you go to sleep, when you have already put them down, to do a regular “head-to-toe” regimen. Or, get the family involved! It’s a great way to spend family time and develop health habits for the whole household. Plus, kids are naturally super flexy, as they haven’t developed muscular tension from years of abuse, and will likely love showing off how much better they are than mom or dad on the positions. So do yourself a favor, and get flexy!