Of all the exercises and activities available, stretching is probably the most skipped. After all, stretching doesn't really burn many calories, like cardio, and it doesn't make you stronger, like strength training. Add to the fact that we often have a limited time to exercise, and many of us start to think - why waste time on stretching when I could get more cardio or lifting in?
The problem is that lack of flexibility can cause all kinds of problems, something you might suddenly become aware of, say, when you stretch to reach something on a high shelf and pull a muscle or when trying to reach behind your head to remove your cat, only to realize your arms won't go that far. Or maybe that second thing only happens to me.
The next time you're tempted to skip your stretch, think of all the things you might be missing out on like:
- Better range of motion - If you can take your joints through a full range of motion, you'll be more balanced, more coordinated and less prone to hurting yourself - good news if you're klutzy, like me.
- More flexibility - It's amazing how much flexibility we need each day, from bending over to tie our shoes to wrestling off tight, sweaty sports bras. It's these small tasks that often challenge our flexibility the most.
- Injury prevention - Stretching before a workout doesn't really prevent injury, but being flexible overall can. A flexible muscle can absorb shock better and can handle movements that often lead to pulled muscles.
- Relaxation - Stretching feels good in a way that cardio and strength training often don't. Taking a little time to slow down, relax and enjoy all your hard work helps you end your workout on a good note.
What do you think of stretching? Do you make time for it every day or do you often skip it when you run out of time? Do you ever wonder if stretching really does anything for you? Leave a comment and tell us your thoughts on stretching.