Stretching is more than a cool down. Here’s why you should consider it exercise.

  • It improves your workouts: “Stretching is a simple and effective activity that helps to enhance athletic performance, decrease the likelihood of injury, and assists with injury rehabilitation,” says Brad Walker, author of “Ultimate Guide to Stretching” and the Director of Education at StretchLab, an L.A.-based assisted stretching franchise concept, that offers both one-on-one stretching and group classes. “As a result, a reduction in general muscle tension is achieved and our ability to bend, reach and turn is improved. How exactly does an increase in range of motion translate to our weekly bootcamp or yoga class? “I’ve been able to work out harder and more efficiently by maintaining my flexibility and range of motion throughout all of my joints by stretching,” says Ford. “A greater range of motion can lead to gains in physical performance. For instance, if you have tight hips and a lower back, you’ll be limited in your range of motion during a squat or lunge exercise. This means that you can’t fully utilize all the muscles used during the motion, plus you’ll most likely also be putting more pressure on the supporting ligaments of the joints used. As you improve your flexibility you will be able to use the proper muscles during the movement and those muscles to better effect.”