By Nora Tobin for Shape.com
As a fitness professional and athlete, one of the most common questions I hear is, "Do I really need to stretch?" or "What's the least amount of stretching I can do to still be worth it?" The short answer: Yes, stretching is important, and you should spend at least five minutes cooling down after every workout. Here are a few reasons why:
- You'll prevent injury and relieve pain. Stretching increases your range of motion, taking pressure off the joints and allowing the body to move more fluidly during exercise. As a result, you'll help prevent injury and/or pain that can be the product of an active lifestyle.
Do this five-minute cool-down at the end of your workout, when you wake up or before you go to bed. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds, and repeat all five stretches two to three times.