Many people can’t stand stretching. You may think it’s boring, you may think it’s a waste of time, you may think that it’s unimportant. These reasons, along with an endless supply of others is a huge reason why many people now-a-days will completely neglect stretching before or after their workouts. Guess what that leads to? Destroyed joints. Torn ligaments. Muscular imbalances. (And not being able to touch your toes…) This is a HUGE problem. If we keep going in this direction we’re going to have a generation of hunchbacks on our hands. If you have never gotten into stretching, it’s easy to not understand how important it actually is. Or how much of an impact it will have not only on your flexibility but your muscle gain potential and overall health as well. Here are 8 reasons why you should definitely consider incorporating stretching into your daily routine: 1) Less Likelihood Of Getting Injured By loosening up your muscles with a consistent stretching regimen, you can actually encourage a greater level of nutrient partitioning to the muscles. The end result of this is enhanced levels of recovery and less muscle soreness, ultimately allowing you to get back in the gym training harder even sooner, improving your overall growth potential. 2) Stretching Cements Good Posture Keeping good posture is absolutely essential and goes completely neglected by most individuals out there. Not only will stretching keep your muscles from aching as much, but it will also help you maintain proper posture. Proper posture will help to keep your spine aligned, encouraging an improved range of motion during your workouts and drastically decreasing your risk of injury. 3) Increased Levels Of Stamina By loosening your muscles with stretching, you can actually improve the amount of oxygen that reaches muscle groups, consequently staving off muscle fatigue for a longer period of time. As lactic acid builds up in your muscles, you begin to get more and more fatigued. The tighter your muscle are, the faster this build up occurs. By incorporating a daily stretching routine you can slow down the rate of lactic acid build up by loosening your tightly bound muscles and increasing the amount of oxygen that can be stored in your muscle cells. 4) Improved Cardiovascular Health Other than just improving oxygen uptake in the muscle cells, stretching can also help increase blood flow to the muscles. This will improve your levels of muscular recovery and growth, as well as promote general heart health, as greater blood circulation leads to less stress on your heart. Lowered resting heart rate + more consistent blood pressure as a result of proper cstretching = being healthier and living longer 5) Improved Muscle Growth Potential Your muscle fascia is a sheet of connective tissue beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles. If it is extremely tight, you WILL NOT grow efficiently. This is why we stress making sure you get a huge pump every time you go to the gym. If you aren’t driving huge amounts of blood into the muscle during your workouts, you aren’t going to stretch the fascia out adequately, and without the fascia being stretched, your muscle will more than likely remain underdeveloped. A genetically lagging body part may simply be lagging because of extra tight fascia that your body is genetically predisposed to in that particular area. By incorporating a strong and consistent stretching regimen, you can help loosen up that muscle fascia, allowing room for the muscle to stretch and grow in size. 6) Better Energy Levels Tight muscles are actually directly correlated with tiredness. When you start to get tired and lethargic, your muscles will start to tighten themselves in response. A good little trick if you are stuck at a desk or in a chair for the majority of your day is to get up out of your seat every once and a while throughout your day and do a few good stretches. The loosening of those tight muscles will improve blood flow and increase oxygen intake helping you become alert again, and regain some focus. 7) It Isn’t As Time Consuming As You Think The bare minimum is 10-15 minutes of stretching per session, with 4 sessions per week. This is hardly demanding, but could very well make a large positive difference in your life. If you choose to neglect it, you are simply putting yourself at heightened unnecessary risk of injury each and every time you workout, and possibly even shortening your lifespan. Your goal for your stretching during warm-ups should be to get the blood flowing and get your body temperature up before you start engaging in demanding physical activity. Rule of thumb: Do all of your stretches slowly (fast movements can cause injury), and hold each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds. Flexibility is determined majorly by the length of time you remain in a stretched position, and holding a stretch for less than 30 seconds won’t sufficiently loosen up the target muscle group. 8) If You Start A Consistent Stretching Regimen You Will Be Rewarded Quickly Unlike muscle gains, which tend to be slow, gains in flexibility come very quickly, and it is very encouraging to see how much you progress week to week. By incorporating some regular stretching into your warmup routine you may find that you start hitting the gym harder and are less sore afterwards than ever before!