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The 10 Reasons Why Stretching Matters!

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

Making sure that you stretch before and after any physical activity is super important, so make sure it becomes part of your daily routine! Here are 10 reasons why stretching is important:

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1. Flexibility. Achieving and maintaining an adequate range of motion in your musculoskeletal joints is important for several

reasons, including the fact that it appears to reduce your potential

for injury. For example, an insufficient level of flexibility in your

hamstrings and lower-back muscles is thought to be a major factor in

the incidence of lower-back pain. At a minimum, improving your level

of flexibility will enhance your ability to perform certain physical

and sports-related tasks.

2. Timing. As a general rule, the best time to stretch is just

after a brief warm-up. Such a schedule will increase your level of

blood flow and raise the temperature level in your muscles, both of

which are vital for muscle elasticity. Stretching cold muscles may

sprain or tear them. You also should stretch after warming down.

3. Prescription. One of the keys to maximizing your efforts

to increase your level of flexibility is to perform two to six

repetitions of each stretch exercise to the point of mild discomfort,

holding each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds. (Note that no universal

consensus exists concerning how long to hold a particular stretch.)

4. Exercise order. Begin your stretching routine by stretching

the major muscle groups of your body first. Then, stretch the specific

muscles involved in the activity in which you plan to engage.

5. Isolation. To the degree possible, isolate the muscles you

want to stretch. If other parts of your body move while you are

exercising, your stretching efforts will be compromised, and your risk

of suffering an injury will be heightened.

6. Technique. Three basic approaches to stretching commonly

are used. Ballistic stretching (i.e., performing bouncing stretches)

involves the momentum generated by the moving body part to produce the

stretch. The second type of stretching is static stretching which

involves gradually stretching through a muscle's full range of

movement until resistance is felt. The stretch is held for a

predetermined time, and then the muscle being stretched is relaxed,

followed by stretching that muscle even further. The final common

stretching is contract-relax stretching (i.e., proprioceptive

neuromuscular facilitation). This technique involves performing an

isometric contraction of the muscle to be stretched, followed by slow,

static stretching of that same muscle.

7. Pain. You should not stretch to the point of pain.

Flexibility can not be developed while the stretched muscle is in

pain; also, you may injure yourself. At worst, any discomfort you

experience while stretching should be relatively mild and brief.

8. Gender. All factors considered, women tend to be

significantly more flexible than men at all ages (youth to adulthood).

To a degree, these difference can be overcome by engaging in a

properly designed stretching program for an extended period of time.

9. Age. As you age, your level of flexibility tends

to decrease, although such a decrease can be attributed more to an

increase in your level of inactivity rather than the aging process

itself. Most human bodily systems experience some degree of functional

decline, but much of the physiological decline typically seen with

aging results from a decrement in a person's physical activity level.

10. Patience. Don't be discouraged with or forego your

stretching efforts because you are not progressing as quickly as you

would like or are not as flexible as others. Keep in mind that

flexibility is an individual matter, one that varies from person to

person. Stay the course. Eventually, your efforts will pay substantial


If your looking for a really great reference point to start with, take a look at this wonderfully informative, yet easy to understand book by Jessica Mathews: Stretching to Stay Young: Simple Workouts to Keep You Flexible, Energized, and Pain Free.

The importance of stretching cannot be emphasized enough and the sooner you implement it into your daily routine the better off you will be. At first it might be difficult to fit in and you may be tempted to skip it and jump straight into your workout but trust me, once you start to see the results of a daily routine and how much better you feel, you will wonder why you didn't start sooner!


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