Stretching Before Exercise: What Are the Benefits?

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Working out regularly is a great way to stay in shape. However, many people who go to the gym, work out at home, and attend physical therapy don’t fully grasp the importance of stretching before exercise. Instead of incorporating stretches into a pre-workout routine, many dive straight into their physical activities. 

So, is it a good idea to stretch before exercising? As Jersey City’s best physical therapist, Exchange Physical Therapy Group understands the benefits of a good stretch, especially before engaging in physical activities. Here, we share some of the reasons to participate in the practice. 

Why Stretching Before Exercise Is Beneficial

Stretching is an essential aspect of physical therapy because it benefits the body in multiple ways. Your body needs to warm up before working out to minimize complications and improve performance. It doesn’t require a long time, either; you can incorporate a five-minute warmup to prepare your joints and muscles for physical activity. 

Stretching comes in three forms: dynamic, ballistic, and static. Dynamic stretches are active movements that you don’t hold. In other words, you stretch your joints and tissues while gently moving. 

Ballistic stretches use a bouncing motion to engage muscles past their typical range of motion. Though dynamic and ballistic stretching are beneficial before exercise, it’s best to leave static stretching as part of your workout cooldown. With static stretches, you’ll hold the movement for up to 20 seconds to keep your muscles limber. 

Static stretching might seem important to remember during your workout regimen, but below are several reasons to stretch before working out. 

1. Increase Blood Flow

Dynamic stretching, like jogging in place, walking lunges, and trunk twists, before exercising can loosen your tendons, tight muscles, joints, and ligaments. As the tissues relax, their blood vessels open wider. As a result, your heart pumps more blood and improves your body’s circulation

Improved circulation is ideal before a workout because the stretched muscles will get more oxygen from the increased blood flow. The oxygen helps your tissues remove metabolic waste as it prepares for more strenuous activity. 

2. Reduce the Risk of Injury

You don’t have to engage in a high-intensity exercise routine to be at risk for injury. You could hurt yourself doing something as simple as jogging on a treadmill if you don’t prepare your body for the activity. 

Muscles consist of tiny fibers that can tear and cause painful injuries. Putting too much stress on tight muscles, ligaments, joints, and tendons can lead to sprains, strains, and other damage. However, studies suggest that stretching can dramatically affect the viscosity or density of tendons, making them more compliant to movement and less likely to develop an injury. 

Though stretching before exercise can help reduce serious injury risks, there are other ways to hurt yourself unintentionally while working out. For instance, you must perform the stretches correctly and maintain proper form while exercising. 

3. Stress Relief

Daily stressors can affect your body. For instance, if you are stressed, you might develop muscle spasms or feel tightness around your neck and shoulders, triggering neck pain and headaches. These physical effects are due to “fight or flight“ hormonal imbalances that send excess adrenaline and cortisone throughout your body. 

Unfortunately, stress-induced physical discomfort can weaken your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to illness. However, stretching regularly can relax muscle tension and rid your body of pent-up stress. 

Start Improving Your Body Today With Exchange Physical Therapy Group

Exchange Physical Therapy Group is a premier physical therapy center with four locations throughout Hudson County, NJ, including Jersey City. Our exceptional and well-trained physical therapists dedicate themselves to our patients’ health, wellness, and recovery. We encourage beneficial behaviors, including stretching before exercise, to ensure our patients engage in physical activity comfortably and safely. 

View our blog for more details about exercises for leg pain and other aches, then contact Exchange Physical Therapy Group at (201) 721-6130 for an appointment.