Reasons not to skip your stretching routine
Flexibility improves your performance in physical activities
Basic movement relies on the contraction and expansion of muscle fibers. When muscles are tight and do not have the capacity to lengthen, activities can become impaired. For instance, flexible quadriceps (muscles at the front of your thighs) allow you to rise out of a chair with relative ease. If your quadriceps are tight, it becomes difficult to bend your knees beyond 90 degrees and provide enough leverage to stand up.
Another activity – running — requires sufficient elasticity of your hip flexor muscles, located at the front of the hip. Tight hip flexors impede your ability to move your leg backwards. This results in shortened stride length and a slower running pace.
Flexibility decreases your risk of injuries
Muscles that are not flexible set the stage for potential injury. Muscles work best when they respond to change quickly and efficiently. If a muscle is tight and contracted, then its ability to suddenly adjust diminishes, and the risk of damage increases.
A classic example of this problem is associated with tight hamstring muscles. Hamstrings are the muscle group at the back of your thighs. They allow you to walk and bend your knees. Hamstring muscles lengthen and stretch when you walk. In order to elongate your stride or gait when you run or walk, your hamstrings need more length and elasticity. If your hamstrings are tight and contracted, you risk tearing the hamstring muscle belly. This is why hamstring tears occur when performing a sprint or sudden burst of running without proper stretching or conditioning.
Even those who are not active runners (or sprinters) are not immune to these types of impairments. Short and tight hamstrings can also lead to tendinopathy which occurs when there is increased tension between a hamstring tendon and its attachment at the pelvis (sit bones). Tendons are not fond of being overloaded and pulled repeatedly in the wrong way. An overburdened tendon will become irritated, swollen and painful. Hamstring tendinopathy presents as a very uncomfortable pain in your buttock. As a result, sitting is uncomfortable, and long walks tend to worsen the discomfort.
Stretching all major muscle groups is an important part of a daily exercise routine as it keeps you flexible, helps you to keep doing what you want and need to do.