I remember my late teens, stretching was never a factor in my attempt to bulk up my rake thin frame. I just head over to the gym, plop down on the bench, stare into the middle distance for a few seconds, and just start bench-pressing the bar bells. An hour later, after doing curls, push ups and squats, I’d just wear my clothes and head home tired but happy. Never a thought to stretching before or after my exercises. Maybe that accounted for the niggling body aches and pains I never seem to get rid of.
If I had a competent mentor back then, they would have told me how important stretching is before and after exercising. They would have informed me that on my gym-free days, yoga (which I wrongly scoffed as being only good for women) was a good way to stretch my sore muscles. They would have taught me the things I discovered when I got older (and hopefully wiser). One question I keep asking myself is, did the lack of proper stretching all those years account for this neck sore I get from time to time. Hopefully not. I want to blame that on my pillow and a tendency to sleep in a bad position.
It is not for nothing top class athletes do a bit of stretching before an event. If those guys with well-toned body do it, why not us, the mere mortals of the fitness world.
Benefits of Stretching Exercise
Almost everybody does a good stretch at one point in a day. We do it because we just want to loosen our limps or joints. The most common is the neck stretch. After sitting at your desk for too long bending over a work sheet, we unconsciously raise our heads, tense the neck muscles while twisting the neck in different directions. That is to relive cramps and sore muscles.
But the major benefit of doing that is to increase flexibility. And that applies to other parts of the body as well.
Reduces the risk of injury
Some uber-advocates of a good stretch would tell you one reason athletes pull up short with injury in an event is because of inadequate warm-ups. Stretching and proper warm-ups they say, tells your body to get prepared for what is to come. Or to put it in another way, when you stretch, your brain reminds the different muscles the correct length the muscles are meant to be during the exercise. Invariably reducing the risk of muscle and joint injuries.
Stretching relieves Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) symptoms
This is exclusive for ladies. If you suffer from the sometimes debilitating pains that comes with the onset of your period, stretching is a good way to help you manage the pains. Generally, A combination of stretching and breathing exercises would do the trick. However it is advisable to combine stretching with a whole some other life style changes at this stressful period of the month.
So while you are stretching to ease that neck pain, or trying the manage PMS symptoms, another added benefit is the fact that you are reliving your stress levels by a huge margin. And of course, reducing stress levels also have added benefits: your mood improves, you feel less tired and at night (this is the best part) you’ll sleep very soundly
Now you know the benefits of this simple exercise, there are certain things you must understand about it. For instance don’t stretch to cause pains in your body. To get full benefits, try to hold a particular position for at least 20 seconds before switching to another stretch position.
Breathe normally while doing it and finally, try to keep your stretches smooth. After all the whole point is to have a loose, limber, well-lubricated joints and muscles before jumping into any other exercise.