Stretching is an integral part of physical fitness and it should absolutely be part of your daily routine. I find that many individuals neglect stretching because it does not meet their immediate aesthetic goals of weight-loss or muscle gain. But, the reality of this priority slip surfaces when individuals find themselves stiff, achy, and inflexible. While a stiff back and tight hamstrings can make you look and feel older than you are, a supple, flexible body can be a sign of youth and vitality.
Young, old, male or female, athlete or non-athlete, flexibility is vital for everyone. You simply cannot be truly physically fit if you are stiff and inflexible. If you are a person that has been neglecting post-workout stretching or even just daily stretching, it is not too late to start. In fact, the best part about flexibility is, with consistency, it is very easy to improve. It can be fun and exhilarating to feel your body stretching to new limits. After performing a simple warm-up, begin a stretching routine that incorporates your major muscle groups (legs, arms, neck, back and chest). Perform the routine consistently, and watch your mobility and range of motion greatly improve.
Not only should you stretch after your workouts, but it is also important to stretch throughout the day, especially if you maintain the same position for most of the day. Take just a few minutes during your work day to stretch your muscles (neck, back, chest, arms, legs, wrists and ankles); get the blood circulating. Stretching may take a little time and effort but the benefits are far reaching!
By Christina Leidenheimer, CPT, CHLC, CPI