Why regular stretching is so important

Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a full range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they become weaker and unable to extend all the way; that puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.

Think of a short versus long lever in order to understand the importance of stretching.

And of course, you will benefit from keeping your muscles elastic and flexible during the exercise.

"A lot of people don't understand that stretching has to happen on a regular basis. It

should be daily," says David Nolan, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated

Massachusetts General Hospital.

Regular stretching keeps muscles long, lean, and flexible, and this means that exertion

won't put too much force on the muscle itself. Healthy muscles also help a person with balance problems to avoid falls. It improves range of motion during any type of activity and assists in performing exercises using better and safer technique.

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