The Importance of Stretching


On my Scenic Amber cruise last week, I took part in morning stretching classes.


It was awesome.


Do you know about the power of stretching already?


See which notes:

It’s not enough to build muscle and achieve aerobic fitness. You need to think about flexibility, too. Stretching can help.

You may think of stretching as something performed only by runners or gymnasts. But we all need to stretch in order to protect our mobility and independence. “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.

Why stretching is important

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

For example, sitting in a chair all day results in tight hamstrings in the back of the thigh. That can make it harder to extend your leg or straighten your knee all the way, which inhibits walking. Likewise, when tight muscles are suddenly called on for a strenuous activity that stretches them, such as playing tennis, they may become damaged from suddenly being stretched. Injured muscles may not be strong enough to support the joints, which can lead to joint injury.

Regular stretching keeps muscles long, lean, and flexible, and this means that exertion “won’t put too much force on the muscle itself,” says Nolan. Healthy muscles also help a person with balance problems to avoid falls.


and notes:

Stretching offers a range of benefits, from increased flexibility to improved blood flow. Just be sure to start slowly and listen to your body to avoid injury.



Studies about the benefits of stretching have had mixed results. Some research shows that stretching doesn’t reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Other studies show that lengthening the muscle and holding the stretch immediately before a sprint may slightly worsen performance.

However, research has shown that stretching can help improve flexibility, and, as a result, the range of motion of your joints.

Better flexibility may:

  • Improve your performance in physical activities
  • Decrease your risk of injuries
  • Help your joints move through their full range of motion
  • Increase muscle blood flow
  • Enable your muscles to work most effectively
  • Improve your ability to do daily activities


There’s something wonderful about taking a half hour in the morning, especially outside in the sunshine (and sailing into Vienna didn’t hurt!) to focus on flexibility and strength. I really enjoyed my morning stretching classes onboard my river cruise.


And, of course, having Dragon as your wellness coach onboard the river cruise ship was also terrific. He was knowledgeable and accredited, and was easily able to accommodate the workouts to classmates’ injuries or issues – but still gave us all some great tips for incorporating stretching in our daily routines.


I think I will! How about you?