I went to a boxing class this past week. It was 45-minutes of fast-paced, high-intensity cardio and strength training on the bag. When the class ended, I was drenched in sweat—as was everyone else; it was a great workout. I took a few breaths, a long drink of water, and waited for the instructor to lead us through a cool down, as well as some stretching.
“That’s it for the day, everyone! Good work!” she said and stepped off the mat. I watched as everyone around me collected their belongings and quickly followed.
Stretching is like taking our vitamins or actually going to bed on time. It’s important and necessary, but we often push it off and hope to avoid the consequences. We shouldn’t though, and here’s why:
According to Harvard Health, “Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.” Furthermore, they recommend we need to stretch every day (not just before/after workouts).
Stretching doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Allocate a few minutes each morning to stretch after getting out of bed. Remember our post about hydration habits and drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning? Pair that with a five to ten minutes of breathing exercises and stretching. This will not only benefit your body but help to focus your mind and soul on the day ahead.
Additionally, commit to stretching before and after every workout. Get rid of the optional mindset and think of stretching as an important component to get the most out of your fitness routine. Because stretching helps with mobility and flexibility, it is necessary to see the maximum results in your workouts (whether strength training or cardio). Equally important, it helps to prevent unnecessary injury.
So, the next time you put off stretching, don’t. Discipline yourself and be kind to your body. Stretching will benefit it in more ways than one.
Check out some of our favorite stretches in Health’s 15 Stretches You Should Do Everyday article.