Benefits of stretching

Benefits of stretching

There are four main measures of overall fitness: aerobic, muscular, body composition and flexibility.  Every athlete is strong in one area but may need some more work in another. One commonly forgotten portion of fitness is flexibility which can be increased by stretching. Many people do not realize how inflexible they really are. Most people only operate in about 60% of the range of motion in their hips and shoulders and many injuries are caused by the lack of range of motion. Many weight lifters are able to raise their maximum weight lifted simply by increasing their flexibility. The American Heart Association suggests that older adults should stretch in order to preserve the range of motion needed to perform daily activities. It is also recommended healthy adults stretch major muscle and tendon groups two to three days a week.

While some studies disagree on the benefits of stretching and if stretching can prevent injury or not, many people still believe that increased flexibility can benefit more than just their athletic performance. Some studies have shown that stretching can benefit your health in multiple areas.

Increased circulation

  • While some debate over if stretching can prevent injury, it has been shown to increase circulation which increases the supply of nutrients to muscles and cartilage resulting in reduced soreness.


  • Flexibility is determined by the length and tightness of your muscles. The more inflexible you are; the shorter and tighter your muscles are, which can lead to injury. Effective stretching will increase flexibility.

 Increased range of motion

  • Stretching has shown to increase the range of motion in joints such as the shoulder, hip, and knee. The range of motion affects your balance and ability to lift objects and perform everyday activities.

Reduce stress

  • Like most types of exercise, flexibility exercises have shown to reduce stress. Stress causes muscles to become tense and contract while stretching lengthens and loosens muscles. Gentle stretching can help relax tense muscles and lower stress levels.

Alleviate lower back pain and other body pains

  • Lower back pain, as well as pain in many other joints, can be caused by weak, tense and/or inflamed muscles. Stretching can help strengthen lower back muscles which will alleviate pain as well as relax and loosen tense muscles.

While many experts will have different opinions on the benefits of stretching, the fact still remains that stretching has many benefits outside of athletic performance and injury prevention. Increased flexibility can benefit many parts of your daily life and alleviate stress and pain. Flexibility is still a component of fitness and should not be underestimated for its necessity and benefits.

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