Stretching isn’t as popular as it should be in the fitness world. But you may want to re-evaluate if stretching ranks among the lower priorities on your fitness list. To convince you to include stretching as a regular part of your workouts, we have compiled a list of what we feel are the top ten benefits of stretching. The benefits range from obvious things like flexibility to the less obvious such as relaxation! Remember that it to avoid injury it is best to only stretch muscles once they are warmed up. Do some cardio before you stretch to ensure your muscles are not too tight!

 1. Flexibility

Have you ever wondered why dancers stretch so intensely before their rehearsals? Not everyone recognizes the importance of stretching in the fitness world. The director of sports medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina says, “Flexibility is the third pillar of fitness, next to cardiovascular conditioning and strength training.” Stretching causes the muscle fibers to lengthen. This will allow your muscles to increase in size during the process of strength training. If you are trying to bulk up and are not seeing results, stretching regularly might be the key!

2. Increased Range of Motion

Increased range of motion is closely related to flexibility.  Increased range of motion is a huge benefit for athletes of all types. When range of motion is increased, performance is automatically enhanced. Daily gym visits can sometimes become repetitive. Range of motion will allow you to do more exercises using the weights and machines at the gym. Variety in your workouts will make your gym visits much more exciting.

3. Increased Strength

Just like stretching increases muscle mass, it can also increase strength. According to NBC, a study found that when participants incorporated stretching into their regular exercise routines, they increased their performance on weight machines- as much as 32% for knee extension exercises and 15% for knee flexion exercises. Stretching can enhance your workouts by allowing you to perform better. Stretching before and after your workouts will help you to get the most out of your activity.

4. Stress Reduction

It’s no coincidence that yoga is known for reducing stress. Yoga heavily emphasizes the benefits of stretching.  Just a short amount of time spent stretching will help you to feel revived and refreshed.  It was mentioned above that stress helps to lengthen the muscle fibers. Jamie Longval of Brown University says this can lead to relieved tension throughout the body. Healthy Women gives a list of stretches that are particularly effective in stress reduction. Use them to when you need a moment to unwind.

5. Increased Circulation

Increased circulation is one of the most important benefits of stretching. Through circulation, blood travels from the heart and carries oxygen to muscles and organs. Proper circulation is crucial in order for your body to reach its maximum performance potential. After you have warmed up your body, stretch for a few minutes before your workout to get the most out of your session!

6. Reduced Lower Back Pain

For many of us, lower back pain is a fact of life. Whether it is at work, at home, in the car, or while exercising, we are putting constant pressure on our backs. It turns out that stretching is one of the most effective ways to relieve lower back pain! Stretching the lower back area is beneficial to everyone, even if they don’t suffer from lower back pain. The spinal column was designed to move, so ensuring it has maximum mobility has countless benefits. Check out these stretches that specifically target your lower back!

7. Reduced Soreness in Muscles

Muscle soreness is one of the ways we conclude whether a workout was effective or not. Anyone who has experienced the soreness after an intense leg day knows that it can be quite debilitating. In order to reduce the amount of the muscle soreness you feel in the few days after your workout, do a post-workout stretching session! It will help you muscles to lengthen, reducing the amount of tightness and stiffness.

8. Improved Posture

Improper posture is something that is extremely common. Not everyone realizes the negative effects that bad posture can have on our bodies. Digestive issues, spider veins, increased stress levels and bad moods are a just a few of them. Many people were not taught proper posture from the time they were young. This creates a problem because when they try to use proper posture, it feels very uncomfortable. When stretching, you increase the range of motion and lengthen the muscles. If you make an effort to stretch for a short amount of time daily, your posture will greatly improve. You will be surprised at what a difference proper posture can make!

9. Enhanced Coordination

Increased range of motion, as mentioned above, is one of the top benefits that stretching offers. More coordination is a result of an increase in range of motion. Balance becomes easier, which is important for many athletes as well as the average Joe.  It becomes harder to remain balanced as you get older. For this reason, stretching can help prevent injuries caused by loss of balance in later years.

10. Relaxation/Meditation

It is so important for us to take a step back and clear our heads every once in a while.  Meditation and relaxation are both ways to let your body mellow out refresh your mind. Stretching is often mentioned as one of the most effective relaxation techniques. Whole Living has compiled a list of the best relaxing stretches and how to do them. Try some of them before you hop into bed at night. You may be surprised at the good night sleep you get from it.

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