There has been some debate about whether stretching is really necessary before a workout. Some people don’t relish having to pre-empt their workout with a completely separate mini-workout. However, there are several benefits to stretching before you get started on your daily dose of exercise. These are the top three reasons you should spend five or ten minutes warming up your muscles before you begin putting them to the test.
Stretching Prepares You Mentally
It helps to be in the zone before you begin your workout. Whether you’re planning to make new moves at the gym, run your daily three miles, or take a high impact Zumba class, stretching will help you center your mind and bring your head, heart, and body into alignment. Exercise should be a holistic experience, where everything is working together. The time you take to stretch is an ideal opportunity to breath evenly, become aware of your body and its movements, and focus on what you’re hoping to accomplish in the next 30 or 60 minutes.
Mindfulness is a practice that definitely has a place in working out. While you probably associate your physical activity to power, speed, and pushing all your limits, there’s also a quiet and a calm that can enter your emotional space and help you get through even the most challenging workouts. When you stretch, you can put yourself mentally into the place that you need to be to achieve your goals.
Stretching Prepares You Physically
Stretching will increase your flexibility and get your body warm. This is physiologically an ideal place from which to start your workout. You could immediately start running on the treadmill, but to really maximize your results, consider walking fast first. You could run right onto the soccer field or the basketball court, but taking a few minutes to warm up your body and signal your muscles and joints that it’s time to start working will probably hand you a competitive advantage.
You can also help prevent the risk of injury when you stretch. As you ease yourself into a workout instead of shocking your body with sudden physical demands, you train your bones, muscles, joints, and tissues to react accordingly. This is a far more pleasant experience for your body than receiving the jolt of sudden exertion.
Stretching is Not That Hard
When you think about what you put your body through during the course of a workout, stretching is probably a lot easier than anything else you’re going to do. So – why not do it? Think of it as a gift to yourself, where you can do your body some good and take it slowly before you launch full speed into the workout that has been designed to burn fat, build muscle, and make you a stronger, leaner, healthier version of your current self. Find enjoyment in the quiet moments you can spend stretching, and learn to embrace it.
When you’re planning your workout, make sure you include some time and space for stretching. While sports management experts and physical therapists continue to debate whether it’s really necessary, know that you can incorporate it into your fitness routine whether it’s necessary or not. It’s good for you, especially for these three reasons. Turn it into a ritual that you use to begin every workout.