Most people don’t realize that stretching is both natural and instinctive. Humans and animals stretch naturally after waking up and after long periods of sitting or inactivity. It is done instinctively and feels wonderful immediately. Benefiting all people, it can be easily accomplished with time and attention.
Stretching elongates our muscle groups, improving elasticity and the range of motion of the joints involved. Muscles are strengthened and toned since more muscle fibers are available for use. Novice exercisers who stretch after strength training can increase their strength up to 19% when performed after their workout. This is a fabulous return for 10-20 minutes of stretching! Intermediate and advanced exercisers will receive gains as well.
Done daily on its own, before exercising as a warm up to reduce injury or afterwards as a cool down to reduce muscular soreness, stretching is vital to a successful exercise program. It is the missing link in the majority of fitness programs of the people I train.
Remember “change is inevitable, but growth is intentional”. Add a stretching segment to your exercise program, addressing all the major muscle groups. Better yet, join a class or add yoga to your repertoire.