Sports Medicine

Should I Stretch Before a Workout? Part 1

The benefits of stretching far outweigh the temporary annoyance of doing them.

I am not going to lie to you. I hate stretching. So when I decided to write an article about the topic it made me hate writing too. It’s actually hard to think of something as annoying as stretching. It took me a few moments to think of things that are seemingly more obnoxious. These include:

  • Flossing daily
  • Making the bed each and every morning even though your going to mess it up again at night
  • Eating things that taste awful that are healthy for you (don’t look at me like that celery)

Although all of these things are a daily annoyance, their benefits far outweigh the cost of doing them. Flossing preserves your smile and the health of your teeth by preventing gum disease and gingivitis among other things. Tidying up your bed makes your house more pleasing to the eye when guests come over. Also, here’s a good article on why it’s a habit you should consider embracing Read this article called Make Your Bed! Finally, eating celery provides the body with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory support, digestive support, cardiovascular support and so many other benefits.

Then there was stretching. Like the annoyances listed above, the benefits of stretching far outweigh the temporary annoyance of doing them. The issue in why most young and even middle-aged athletes do not stretch is because they don’t often see their athletic role models performing these warm-ups and cool downs and probably don’t not know how to stretch (more on that in part 2). Sports fans watch the games, follow team news, and team transactions, but most never spend a minute seeing the stretching, nutritional intake, hydration, and preparation that the likes of LeBron James, Sydney Crosby, Tom Brady, and every other athlete perform each and every day. If your trying to play like these athletes, you better begin preparing like them.

Below we have listed the main benefits of stretching. For more benefits, about.com wrote an excellent article on the topic.

1. Improves Circulation, balance, and coordination

By improving circulation, balance and coordination,  stretching enables your muscles to stay fresher for longer, allows you to compete at your highest level doing in the game what you imagine in your mind, and enables quicker recover times during the game which allows you to compete at your peak level in the 4th quarter, 3rd period, 9th inning, final set, or back 9; you get the point. 

2. Flexibility

You might have heard this from your gym teacher before, but the main way to improve your flexibility is through stretching. Why would you want to be more flexible? Well, we all know that in sports if you miss by an inch you miss by a mile. An inch could be the difference between a fly out and a homerun, a game winning bucket and a back rim miss, a post and a goal, or even the difference between a touchdown and a missed catch. Flexibility gives you the ability to get that extra inch advantage and make the hall of fame play. Basically, increasing your flexibility through stretching allows you to exercise more easily and become a better athlete since it loosens up the muscles making them longer and stronger.   

3. Injury Prevention

Lastly, injury prevention is one of the most crucial reasons to make stretching part of your daily pre-workout ritual. By doing so, stretching strengthens your lower back preventing lower back pain, increases circulation which allows the supply of nutrients to the muscles and cartilage reducing muscle soreness, improves range of motion and balance which reduces the risk of falling, and believe it or not reduces stress by relaxing tense muscles and releasing boosting endorphins which improve your mood and outlook.

So the next time you are lacing up about to run on the field, court, or rink and play the game you love so much, take the time to stretch. The way you take care of your body  could be one of the main differences between peaking athletically in high school and standing at the podium at your own Hall of Fame induction speech.

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