Flexibility training is one of the key components to achieving your peak athletic potential. It is a form of physical exercise in which a specific muscle is deliberately elongated, often by abduction from the torso, to improve the muscle's elasticity and reaffirm comfortable muscle tone. The result is a feeling of increased muscle control and range of motion.
Improving flexibility through stretching is one of the basic components of sound physical fitness. It is common for athletes to stretch before and after exercise in order to reduce injury and enhance sports performance. Yoga involves the stretching of major muscle groups, some of which require a high level of flexibility to perform.
So when should you stretch? Whenever you can. Before you start, be sure to do five minutes or so jogging in place, or on the exercise bike to loosen up your muscles. Ideally, you will always stretch before and after exercise for at least 10-15 minutes. In addition, it never hurts to add extra stretching to your day. You might try to get some extra training in while you watch your favorite television shows, or after extended period of sitting.
The benefits of a good stretching program are numerous. Not only will it condition your body to allow you to make superior physical gains, but it is also a key factor in preventing injuries. Stretching will improve your overall flexibility, reduce muscle tension and tightness, and help to alleviate soreness after exercise. It can also help to combat joint pain, alleviate stress, and lead to higher-quality sleep. Most importantly, it prepares your body for physical activity, which in turn leads to more successful workouts and athletic performances.