Picture the scene: After a spin class, I was hanging by the water fountain, listening to one of the class members talk to a personal trainer. Whilst filling his water bottle, he boasted to the personal trainer how he “never had to stretch” and “just went from one session to the next” because he “didn’t have time”.
Now, I’m sure he is very lucky and has very supple, flexible muscles, and has never got injured But I bet the personal trainer didn’t advise him to skip the stretching. Here’s why:
1. It keeps you flexible and injury free: The most obvious reason to stretch. Skip your post-workout warm down, and your muscles will be less flexible, slower, less fluid and more likely to develop strains, stresses and injuries. Feeling pain in your back? It’s probably because your lower back, glutes, hips or leg muscles haven’t been stretched out enough.
2. It can help improve cardiovascular health: According to a 2011 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, a simple 10-minute, three-stretch program significantly improved HRV and resting heart rate in men with limited flexibility.
3. It increases blood flow to the muscles: Stretching improves circulation, nourishing the muscles and removing waste byproducts – which will in turn help sore muscles recover from injury. If you didn’t stretch in the first place and have acquired an injury, start stretching now to heal.
4. It’ll improve your balance: This comes with the increased flexibility – meaning you’ll have better balance, co-ordination and are less likely to fall, and will have better posture, supporting your muscles when exercising.
5. It relaxes you: Stretching is the perfect way to unwind after a workout – or wake your muscles up in the morning.