In order to avoid injury, you need to be flexible. Flexibility training improves your range of motion and helps prevent serious injuries. I was watching a college football game with a young female friend of mine. After the third injury to a member of one team, she announced the team needed a new trainer and they weren’t working hard enough on range of motion. While I knew she was an avid sports fan, I thought it was more statistics and rules, but she knew what it took to be fit and was absolutely right!
Stretching exercises before a workout warms the muscles by getting the blood flowing and makes them more flexible.
Dynamic stretching not only helps prevent injury, but also may improve your performance. Dynamic stretching exercises mean you’re doing movements similar to those you’ll be doing when you exercise and working on specific muscle groups, such as runners doing lunges. You’re constantly on the move with dynamic stretches, so they provide some cardio too. Think of touching your toes. The first time you try, no matter how fit you are, it’s a bit of a stress, each time it gets easier.
Flexibility training is more than just stretching before a workout. It’s an integral part of the workout.
Just as my young female friend said, those football players needed more range of motion exercises, another term for flexibility training. If you’re tight, you’ll end up on the bench because of muscle strains and pulls. In everyday life, stretching also helps keep you fitter. If you’re ever had a situation where you “turned just right” and ended with severe back pain, improved range of motion and more strength might have prevented the injury.
Stretching exercises after a workout can help relieve some of the tension in the muscles.
When you do stretching exercises both before and after a workout, you’re doing two things for your muscles. The pre-workout stretching helps prepare the muscle groups and the post stretching helps relieve the stress built up in the muscle groups and eliminate a lot of the post workout aches and pains.
The older you get, the more important stretching becomes. The body tissue loses elasticity, which includes tendons and ligaments. Stretching helps maintain the joint’s range of motion and also sends nutrients to the tissues.
If you’re participating in a sport or just want to look more fluid when you walk, stretching can help you improve your balance and coordination.
You can do specific exercises for stretching or do exercises that work on several types of fitness at once, such as kettlebells.
Yoga is one form of exercise that improves flexibility, but so is dancing. Both of these involve stretching the muscle groups to improve the body’s range of motion.