Stretching is a simple, effective activity that enhances athletic performance, reduces muscle soreness after exercise, and decreases the likelihood of pain and discomfort. There are five major benefits of stretching:
Reduce Muscle Soreness after Exercise
Post-exercise muscle soreness often accompanies strenuous activity, particularly if you have not cooled down properly. The pain is caused by tears within the muscle fibers, accumulated lactic acid, and blood pooling. Stretching after a workout helps alleviate this soreness by lengthening each fiber, removing lactic acid, and increasing blood circulation.
Better Range of Motion
With proper stretching you are able to increase the length of your muscles resulting in less tension and an increase in your normal range of motion. With this increased range, you are lengthening the distance your limbs can move before damage occurs to the muscles and tendons. During exercise, you will be more comfortable, be able to move more freely, and be less susceptible to strain injuries.
Increased Muscle Strength
With increased muscle length, you are increasing the distance over which your muscles will be able to contract, enhancing your muscle power. Your balance, muscle control, and general athletic ability will be dramatically improved with stronger muscles.
Muscles work in pairs. For each working muscle in your body there is an opposing muscle working against it in a contraction. If the opposing muscle is flexible, the working muscle does not have to exert as much force against it. Each movement of the working muscle takes less effort, resulting in reduced fatigue.
If you regularly stretch after your workouts, you will also improve your posture, coordination, body awareness, and energy. You will feel more relaxed and less stressed.