By Bronwyn Ison

Stretching regularly is equally as important as exercising.  Most people neglect this aspect of their exercise routine.  Lengthening your muscles by stretching them renders a plethora of benefits.  Often we overlook stretching because we want to move on with the rewarding part of exercising.  Change your mindset and know that stretching can be just as fun.

Yoga is an incredible discipline to incorporate into your exercise routine.  The practice is virtually all stretching.  Here are some benefits to stretching and yoga.

If you lift weights you are in anticipation of achieving muscle development. Without stretching you run the risk of stunting and shortening the muscles. Stretching will assist in establishing long and lean muscles versus stunted and short.  Plus, stretching helps you move through a full range of motion.

You can increase your range of motion and flexibility.  This should be great news for an athlete.  Many athletes are tightly bound.  If you have been to a Major League Baseball game and have witnessed batting practice you will often see a handful of players stretching on the field before the big game.  This is also a part of their warm-up.  Regardless your sport you need to stretch prior to and concluding your workout.

Stretching can decrease your incidence of injury.  Did you know the more flexible you are the less likely you are to injure yourself in the event of a fall?  Why?  Your muscles can travel the extra distance and they are less likely to tear.

Increasing blood flow to the muscles is important to complete, prior to a workout.  Oxygen is supplied as well as other nutrients and this assists the muscles to maintain viability.

We also know that we can improve our posture via stretching.  If you have poor posture you’re likely to experience some kind of back pain.  Back pain is often experienced due to tight hamstrings and hips.  If your hamstrings feel like a brick, as most of yours do, it’s time to get serious about stretching.  Focus on your tightest areas and address them daily. Doing nothing at all is the worst infliction upon self.

If you sit at a desk all day or find yourself in and out of your car … do yourself a favor and take a few moments throughout your day to take a few stretches.  It will be an enhancement to your workday.  Stretching is also good for your mind.  It provides your brain a healthy mental stretch also.

Take ten minutes to stretch or engage in yoga and Pilates.  This will maintain your muscles in a healthy state.  You owe it to yourself to keep your muscles smiling.

Bronwyn Ison is the owner of Evolve Yoga. (760)564-YOGA