Stretching Exercises should be included in every health and fitness routine. In fact, stretching exercises should be performed prior to, and after, every workout.

Performing a stretching routine prior to exercising warms up the body and reduces the probability of injury. This is partly due to the fact that stretching exercises increase joint, muscle, ligament, and tendon flexibility. By doing so, the body is warmed up (blood and oxygen flow to all soft tissue) and better prepared to perform the fitness workout. In general, pre-workout stretching routines average approximately 5 to 10 minutes, with each stretching exercise being held for 15 to 30 seconds.

Post-workout stretching routines minimize muscle tightness, improve flexibility, and cool the body down slowly. Stretching routines that are performed after a workout allow the joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons to stretch even further than prior to the workout.

Typical post-workout stretching routines average approximately 5 to 15 minutes, with each stretching exercise being held for 30 to 60 seconds. While performing the various stretching exercises it is important to remember to breathe normally during the stretch and avoid holding your breath. Concentrate on the specifics of each stretch and your breathing while relaxing into the stretch. Each stretch should provide a feeling of moderate tension and should not create a high level of discomfort. In addition, avoid bouncing while performing each stretching exercise.

One of the benefits associated with stretching exercises is that they can be performed virtually anywhere, at any time, and in a short period of time. Additional benefits include calming and relaxing the mind and the body, creates a sense of inner peace and mental well-being, elongates the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, improves joint flexibility and range of motion, reduces the probability of injuries, increases blood flow throughout the body, improves balance and coordination, improves posture, and reduces stress.