Many people skip stretching their muscles before exercise, not understanding how important it is. Some figure their muscles will be heated up soon enough as they work out, so why do they need to bother with warming up with muscle stretches first? Many of those who do not warm up before exercising would not even think about there being a need to stretch muscles after exercising, which is often called cooling down. They went balls out during their workout and now they just want to drag themselves out of the gym before the pain of such a strenuous workout of the muscles overtakes them.


Is there really good reasoning for all of the endorsements of pre and post exercise muscle stretching? Or is it another form of torture as the seriously out of shape person just beginning a regular exercise program might think? Stretching your muscles before beginning to exercise and afterwards, will actually result in your body feeling less tortured as it is moved and pushed in ways it is not used to because of your previously sedentary habits. Whether you are just starting out or you are a fitness buff, stretching your muscles before and after engaging in an exercise program or fitness training regimen is important.


Taking a few minutes to stretch and warm up your muscles before beginning exercise releases a lubricating substance from the cartilage within the joints, which aids the fluid motion of muscles and also keeps bones from scraping against one another at connection points in the body. Lubricated and fluid moving muscles have more flexibility which reduces your chances of injuring them. Helping your muscles to become more flexible by stretching is not only beneficial for preventing injury during exercising, flexible muscles are able to distribute strength better which helps you in doing a variety of physical activities with more balance, using less energy, especially while lifting and bending.


During an exercise routine you tense and stretch muscles, tensing and stretching muscles strengthens them and increases the mass of muscles. The circulation of blood throughout the body is also increased by stretching your muscles. You know whether your muscles are getting a workout or not because when they are, an area of your brain receives a message of muscle tightening from them. The brain then relays this message to another part of the brain which is responsible for allowing us to experience physical responses to such messages, and you then feel your muscles get tighter. Most of us do not usually think about these processes of the brain that happening while we are exercising.


What we do become aware of is the feeling of our muscles tightening. After a good workout muscles and joints are heated up and tight and can stiffen and become sore a few hours later if you do not take a few minutes to cool them down with some post exercise stretching. This is opposite from warming up muscles and joints before exercising by slowly increasing the intensity and number of stretches. Instead you want to slow things down and gently stretch to relieve the tightness in muscles and joints that have built up during your workout. One note you should keep in mind about post exercise stretching is that you should not do this if you strained or sprained a muscle while exercising, as this can exasperate the injury. 


Whether you are doing warming up or cooling down stretching you should avoid bouncing while stretching because bouncing while stretching can cause injury to muscle tissue. Stretching muscle groups such as the neck, shoulders, back, hips, thighs and calves for at least thirty seconds each pre and post exercising, usually gets the job done. You can stretch them for longer if they still feel extra tight. So consider the benefits of stretching before skipping it in the future.