Whether due to time constraints or simply not thinking it’s necessary, stretching is often overlooked as an important element of both a workout and of everyday life. But the truth is there are immense benefits from stretching for your mind and body.

Stretching is key to improving both your posture and flexibility. It can restore balance to the body and reduce your chances of sustaining pain and injuries, whether or not its due to exercise. Stretching can increase circulation and blood flow, release muscle tension, and give you more energy.

Most know that stretching is key to keeping muscles in good shape after exercising. Post-workout muscles can feel tight. Weight training causes the muscle length to shorten, which may lead to soreness. Stretching right after a workout will help your body feel less tense. To make the most out of your exercise routine (and to best prevent injuries), warm up, then stretch, and then continue with your workout.

If you’re in a profession that requires sitting for the majority of a day, your glute muscles may begin to atrophy. This can place excess stress on other joints, like the knees and lower back. By getting up and stretching the glutes and hip flexors, you can awaken the muscles and help reduce the possibility of future pain.

The thoracic spine (in the mid-back) is another part of the body that is greatly impacted by sitting for extended periods of time. A tight thoracic spine can create a chain reaction of pain in the neck, shoulders, and chest. Simple rotational stretches are important in keeping the middle back free of pain.

Try to stretch at least 2 to 3 days per week for 10 minutes each day. To make the most out of your stretching routine, make sure you hold the stretch when you first feel resistance, then breathe evenly as you stretch. Hold stretches for about 15 to 60 seconds and repeat three to four times. If a stretch does not feel right, you can modify it to meet your needs. For instance, you can place padding under your knees or try stretching while lying down. Focus on the muscles that are tight while you stretch. And though it may be tempting, resist bouncing while stretching as that can lead to small tears in the muscle.

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